Each Portrait is an Excerpt

“Lucien the Younger” (c. 1866) 8x10 inches | Oil on wood panel 2018 | $650

“Lucien the Younger” (c. 1866)
8x10 inches | Oil on wood panel
2018 | $650

What is this "Younger" business? I chose to title the painting "Lucien the Younger" to call attention to the instant in time that Lucien's likeness was preserved. This portrait only speaks to one facet of his long and dynamic life. Here he sits, face frozen at a particular moment. In this painting he is unaware of what the rest of his life will hold.

This Lucien, 'Lucien the younger,' sadly experienced the loss of three siblings during his youth. He grew up strong however, working as a farmer in his parent's orchards and nurseries in upstate New York. Throughout his teens he encountered the strong opposing sides that would erupt into the Civil War in1861. In1863, at the age of 22 he is registered into the Civil War draft records. This is what we know of his youth, and what he had experienced by the time this image was captured... But does he know he will soon meet a young principal who recently moved to his town? Does he know he will propose to her? Has he already become a prominent assemblyman and added “Hon’ble” to his name? He likely hasn’t yet met his brother-in-law. And, being of the opposite political party, certainly hasn’t guessed yet that this man will become president of the United States. Lucien hasn’t yet had his five children, nor witnessed the grand, double wedding of two of his daughters. He doesn’t know these two daughters will become housewives, the third daughter a Ph. D professor, and his two sons a doctor and an industrial engineer. These are events Lucien the Younger is oblivious to.

We evolve so much as we grow and can almost seem to be different people from one decade to the next. I'm sure you have experienced this feeling. Perhaps, when you look back at a childhood photo of yourself and marvel at the innocence you see? This transience of being is easy to forget with Victorian photography since it's not uncommon to have just one photograph of a person. It is easy to apply the characteristics you glean from that one photograph to their entire life; A faulty but common impulse.

With each portrait I paint, I remind myself that I am recreating just one version of that person. In Lucien's eyes I see a stolid yet searching man. Seemingly unruffled but with a touch of sadness around the edges. I think about how the later events of his life, that we know and he does not, will alter this young man... Does he soften or harden with age?