Glenn Brown’s paintings are frequently based on reproductions of paintings by other artists. His sources have included popular images, such as book jackets, but have more commonly referenced well-known paintings by the likes of Salvador Dalí, Willem de Kooning, Rembrandt and Van Gogh. 'Decline and Fall' is based on a portrait by the British painter Frank Auerbach (b.1931), whose painting is remarkable for the exceptional thickness of its tactile, heavily worked paint – a surface treatment suggested but flattened in Brown's work. He frequently works from reproductions of portraits and has made over 20 paintings based on Auerbach’s work alone – more than any other artist. Explaining the effect of his reproductions, Brown says, "the original person gets further and further lost, and removed... [there is] a sense of loss, as if they were ghosts." The title of the painting makes reference to Edward Gibbon’s 'The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' (1776–89), which Brown addresses instead to human beings. "A lot of paintings are debased or reduced in some way"’ he says, "in the sense that they are second versions of something that previously existed and in that sense a declining version of reality."

Ann Jones


  • Title: Decline and Fall
  • Creator: Glenn Brown
  • Date Created: 1995
  • Physical Dimensions: 58.4 x 54.6cm
  • Rights: The artist
  • Medium: Oil and canvas on board

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