The ghost behind the Gainsborough
X-rays reveal hidden masterpiece
Tuesday 28 January 1997
Susan Foister, a senior curator at the National Gallery in London, used the latest X-ray technology to "strip down" the picture by the 18th-century British artist. The X-ray revealed a completely different painting underneath.
Ms Foister is organising the exhibition "Young Gainsborough" which opens at the National Gallery tomorrow .
She said yesterday that she had become worried about one picture lent for the exhibition, Couple in a Landscape, which she had viewed often at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in south-east London.
"I was suspicious of the Dulwich picture," she said yesterday. "The skirt of the woman didn't look like Gainsborough's dresses. Normally in his paintings you see the folds beautifully portrayed and the light falling on the satiny-looking skirts. In this one the folds aren't neat. There's a lack of logicality in the way the highlights are shown.
"I thought it would be interesting to check it out, so I had the painting brought in early and X-rayed it. The X-ray that came out was quite extraordinary. For a start, Gainsborough had worked on it the other way up, and when we turned it round, we saw there was a painting of the head and shoulders of a woman in a hat and dress. "We could see that the lips of this woman were partly shading the dress in the later picture."
Ms Foister says that the earlier picture is "without doubt a Gainsborough", though she does not know who the subject is. She says that it is possible that Gainsborough was commissioned to do the earlier painting and the commission was then cancelled. In the interests of economy, Gainsborough might have used the same canvas for the later work.
"It's an impressive portrait of a strong-jawed woman in a beautiful dress," says Ms Foister. "And it's another painting by Gainsborough from a very interesting period in his career, the early period. It's something art historians will be rather excited about."
Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist
Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama
Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas
- 1 Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
- 2 Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware of promises. Vote Yes.
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Revealed after 75 years of secrecy: 'Fifi' the glamorous WW2 special agent who tested British spies' resolve
- 5 Have you heard about the film Singapore has banned its people from watching? Well, you have now
Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
Scottish independence: Final opinion polls show undecided voters could swing result either way
Scottish independence: Almost half of No voters have felt 'personally threatened' by the Yes campaign
Isis release 'Flames of War' video warning Obama of attacks troops could face in Iraq
Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...
£1036224 - £1513056 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Educatio...
£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Are you a fully quali...