Could a Freud masterpiece be hidden under this Suffolk painting?
PUBLISHED: 15:49 09 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:49 09 July 2018
A rare landscape by renowned artist Lucian Freud has been discovered hidden under a painting by a Suffolk pub sign artist - and there may be even more secrets hidden beneath the layers of paint.
The artwork was unearthed in the cellar of artist Elizabeth Bodman from Hadleigh, who died in 2015.
When her estate was sold by Sworders auctioneers, a painting from her artist husband Tom Wright, a friend of Freud’s, was found.
A signature, thought to be that of Freud, was discovered on the back of the painting, prompting some to think there may be more to it than meets the eye.
As canvasses were rationed at the time it was painted, there was a chance Wright had painted over one of Freud’s.
Amy Scanlon, head of pictures at Sworders, said: “The painting was x-rayed but didn’t show anything but as a landscape by Tom Wright is worth £200 there was a feeling of why not give it a go. It has taken pretty much two years for the restoration to take off every piece of paint with a scalpel.
“But the mystery goes even further in that, due to the process of taking the paint off, a little bit of pale, pinky paint was found underneath. So the question is - is there another picture under this picture?”
The new discovery of pink paint has led some to believe there may be a Lucian Freud portrait under the landscape, which can fetch tens of millions of pounds.
At an auction in New York in 2015, Freud’s painting ‘Benefits Supervisor Sleeping’ sold for more than £42 million. The landscape is expected to reach £20-30,000 when it goes under the hammer on Wednesday, July 11.
Ms Scanlon added: “The way Lucian is written on the back is in the portrait format rather than landscape. The landscape had been discovered and the decision was made to leave what is there rather than go further.
“In theory if you could remove the landscape without destroying what is underneath it could really be worth something - but it would be a big gamble.”
Robert Upstone, former senior Tate curator for 23 years, said: “It became absolutely clear that there are three layers of painting, the presence of Freud’s signature logically and forcefully suggests that what lay underneath - whether abandoned or uncompleted, was painted by Freud himself.”