We think this is the first portrait Brian sculpted.
He had a model for the first time at Sutton and Cheam School of Art and would have been about sixteen. He told me that as he had no way of measuring at this time, that the portrait came out much bigger than life size, to his amazement! Amazing too is his apparently natural ability to model, (look at the ear) and to sculpt the features accurately in proportion to each other.
I found the original photograph of this sculpture in the bottom of a dusty old drawer, all creased and scrumpled up. I had the photograph “rebulit”, in the days when such things were done! So this is the only surviving record of this piece.
Below is “Stretching Cat” circa 1953 and was done when Brian was at Epsom and Ewell School of Art. Brian described it to me as a view of a cat from above, when it is drinking from a saucer. At this time we see Brian abstracting from life in a far less detailed style than we see at any other time in his life. The charcoal drawing below is of the same idea and shows the pushing form creating a tension as it moves.
See also the two abstracted forms below the drawing. Here again we feel the taughtness of a living being pushing outwards from the clay, which is what they would have been sculpted in originally. These pieces appear to have been cast in Ciment Fondue. Whereas the bronze of “Stretching Cat” has been around as long as I knew Brian, (35 years!) so he must have been proud of this piece to have made a bronze cast.