Thursday, November 12, 2015

Lucian Freud at Auction

 Christie's 2016

Two of Lucian Freud’s most intimate portraits of his daughters will be united in Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction on Thursday 11 February in London, King Street.

Head of Esther (1982-83, estimate: £2,500,000 - 3,500,000)

 and Head of Ib (1983-84, estimate: £2,500,000 – 3,500,000)

contribute to the strong core of British artists offered at auction this February, alongside Francis Bacon, David Hockney and Peter Doig.

The two works have previously been included, individually and together, in all of Freud’s major retrospectives, including at the National Portrait Gallery, London (2012); Tate Britain, London (2002-3) and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C (1988). Highlights of 20th Century at Christie’s, a series of sales that take place from 2-12 February in London, the two are on view at Christie’s Rockefeller Centre, New York until 20 January 2016. 
Of the same size and similar date, these works were both executed in arguably Freud's greatest period at the beginning of the 1980s when he painted the much celebrated  

Large Interior, WII (After Watteau), (1981-83),  

Two Irishmen in W11 (1984-85),

and his famed self-portraits of 1981

and 1985.

Having recently turned 60, this was a moment of reflection for Freud; painting his children for the first time in over a decade, these works capture Freud’s deep affection for his grown-up daughters after many years of parental absence.  The early 1980s was also a time of professional triumph for Freud: in 1981 he was hailed as a father of ‘New Figuration’ after his work was included in the ground-breaking exhibition A New Spirit in Painting at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and in 1983 he was appointed Commander of the British Empire in recognition of his contribution to British painting.
Painted when Esther and Isobel (Ib) were both in their early twenties, the two works stand among the artist’s most acclaimed small format portraits.  Almost the same age, Isobel (Ib, born in 1961 and daughter of Suzy Boyt) and Esther (born in 1963, the daughter of Bernardine Coverley and celebrated author of Hideous Kinky, which was made into a 1988 film starring Kate Winslet) are rendered with subtle strokes of impasto in rich, warm hues that convey the blossoming familiarity between father and daughters. Many of Freud’s sitters were unattributed but the portraits of his own children were almost always named. The paint itself, which the artist described as being the person, was worked to function in the same way as the flesh of the sitter. It became a tool not just of observation but of reconnection – a means of bringing himself closer to his daughters.
Esther Freud: ‘My father had charisma, he had the ability to make whoever he was with feel very special. With each person he was with he focused so much that they felt glowing. I was glowing. I felt I was important to him ... in those hours and hours I had so much of his attention. He would paint, tell me stories, sing me songs, give me food and take me for dinner. He makes you feel wonderful. I did feel very close to him’ (E. Freud, quoted in interview with A. Elkann).
Francis Outred, Chairman and Head of Post War and Contemporary Art, EMERI at Christie’s commented: ‘At Christie’s we have had the pleasure to present some of Freud’s greatest works yet never have we seen two small portraits of this quality; they are jewels that date from arguably the most important moment in his career and offer an insight into the relationship between a father and his daughters that is unmatched. The intimacy is reflected in the scale of the fourteen-by-twelve inch portraits recall the format of Francis Bacon’s celebrated portrait heads, however where Bacon attempted to capture the presence of his subject  in a single brushstroke, Freud carefully carves and caresses the paint with a piercing exactitude and intense precision.’

 Sotheby’s 2016

On  10  February,  Sotheby’s  London  will  offer  for  sale  a  painting  that  not  only  marks  a  pivotal  moment  in  the  career  of  Lucian  Freud,  but  that  also  shines  a  spotlight  on  a  fascinating  but  little-­‐known  moment  in  the  artist’s  life.  While  much  has  been  written  about  many  of  Freud’s  amorous  liaisons,  barely  anything  is  known  about  his  intense,  and  ultimately  transformative,  relationship  with  Bernadine  Coverley.  The  two  met  when  she  was  just  16,  and  he was already  an  established  artist, 20  years  her  senior.  Although  their  time  together  was  relatively  brief,  it  was  to  prove  critical  -­‐marking  both  the  beginnings  of  a  life-­‐long  bond  and, for  Freud,  a  new  approach  to  painting.  

Pregnant  Girl embodies  this  new  approach.  Estimated  £7-­‐10m,  the  painting  will  be  a  highlight  of  Sotheby’s  Contemporary  Art  Evening  Auction  in  London  on  10  February  2016.Media 

 Oliver  Barker,  Sotheby’sSenior  International  Specialist,  Contemporary  Art:  “This  astonishingly  beautiful  painting  embodies  the  profound  bond  between  Lucian and the  mother  of  his  two  daughters. There  is  arguably  no  other  portrait  by  Freud  that  is  more  gripping,more  tender,and  more  laden  with  such  emotional  depth.”  

In Pregnant  Girl we  see  Freud  paint  his  lover  reclining  on  the  green  sofain  the  long  and  narrow  room  in  his  studio  in  Delamere  Terrace,  West  London.  The  sleeping  17-­‐year  old  -­‐head  titled  to  one  side,  eyes  shut,  dreaming-­‐does  not  confront  the  viewer,  or  the  artist;  rather  we  confront  her  at  an  intensely  private  moment.  In  creating  a  modern  ‘Madonna  and  Child’  or  ‘Sleeping  Venus’,  Freud  echoes  the  greats  of  art  history,  to  deliver  a  breathtaking  image  of  beauty,  desire,  femininity  and  fertility.

Coverley,  whose  Irish  Catholic  parents  ran  the  Black  Horse  pub  in  Brixton,  was  sent  to  a  convent  boarding  school  at  the  age  of  four.  Feeling  trapped  and  despondent  under  the  strict  governance of  the  convent,  she  twice  tried  to  run  away.  By  her  teens,  she  craved the liberation  and  excitement  of  bohemian  Soho  –an  intoxicating   underground   world   of   artists,   musicians   and   writers.  It   was   here,   in  a   Soho   pub   in  1959, where  Coverley  first  met  Freud, who  was  captivated  by  her  natural  beauty  and  free  spirit.  Much  has  been  written  about  Freud’s  famously  numerous  partners  -­‐when  he  first  met  Coverley,  he  had  already   been   twice   married   and   had   fathered   a   number   of   children–but little   is   known   about  their  relationship.  

Pregnant  Girl opens  a  window  onto  the  most  meaningful  moment  in  the  lives  of  both  lovers,  embodying  thesingular  tenderness  he  felt  for  Bernadine,soon  to  be  the  mother  of  his  daughters  Bella  and  Esther.  “It  must  have  been  a  very  happy  time  in  her  life,  being  pregnant  with  the  man  she  loved  and  him  wanting  her  to  be  there  and  paint  her”,  says  their  daughter  Bella,  “I  think  he  was  undoubtedly  the  love  of  her  life.”

After  separating  from  Freud,  Coverley  left  England  (and  its conservative views on unmarried   mothers) with  her  wo small  daughters  to  start  a  new  life  in  Morocco.  The  story   of   their   bohemian   lifestyle   in   Marrakesh   was  immortalised  in  Esther’s  novel  “Hideous  Kinky”,  and  later  turned   into   a hit  film   with   Coverley   played   by   Kate  Winslet.  Although   he   was   not   altogether   present   in   Bella   and  Esther’s  early  years,  Freud  was  extremely  close  with  his  two   daughters,  painting   both   of   them   several   times,  including  

Lucian Freud,  Baby  on  a  Green  Sofa,  1961  Copyright:  Image/Artwork:  ©  The  Lucian  Freud  Archive  /  Bridgeman  Images

Baby  on  a  Green  Sofa (1961),  a  painting  of  Bella  as  a  baby  resting  on  the  same  green  sofa  in  which  her  mother   was   portrayed.  Remarkably,   after   two  extraordinary  lives,  Freud  and  Coverley  died  within  just  four  days  of  each  other  in  July  2011.  

Christie's New York, 9- 10 November 2015

Lucian Freud (1922-2011), The Brigadier, oil on canvas, Painted in 2003-2004. Sold $34,885,000

Lucian Freud (1922-2011), Naked Portrait on a Red Sofa, 1989-91. Oil on canvas. 39. x (99.5 x 90.7cm.)

Lucian Freud’s Naked Portrait on a Red Sofa (1988-91), an intimate and poignant portrait of one of the artist’s most personal subjects, his daughter Bella, will be a centrepiece of the curated sale The Artist’s Muse. on Monday 9 November at Christie’s New York, which marks the first time this portrait is appearing at auction.

Sotheby's Modern & Post-War British Art Evening Sale London, 17 November 2015: Lucian Freud, Girl and Self Portrait

Lucian Freud, Girl and Self Portrait (1947/48), pen & ink, heightened with coloured crayon, on paper21.5 by 29.5cm; 81/2by 111/2inches (est. £600,000-800,000)

Sotheby’s London has announced the sale of an outstanding rediscovered drawing by Lucian Freud in its Modern &Post-War British Art Evening Sale on 17 November 2015. Girl and Self Portrait is the only self-portrait drawing by Freud known to feature his muse Kitty Garman, who was to become his first wife and whom he had painted devotedly from early 1947. 

Unveiled to the public for the first time in almost 70 years, Girl and Self Portrait was gifted between 1947 and 1948 shortly after it was drawn by the artist to the late Sonia Brownell( 1918-1980), second wife of George Orwell. The drawing now comes to the market for the first time with an estimate of £600,000-800,000.

Lucian Freud gifted the drawing to Sonia, who was almost certainly the inspiration for the heroine of George Orwell’s seminal novel 1984, the ‘girlf rom the fiction department’, with whom the book’s protagonist Winston Smith falls in love, changing the course of the storyline. Sonia and Lucian were close friends during the late 1940s, having met when they both worked at the highly regarded literary journal Horizon.It was Freud to whom Sonia turned when she needed help transporting Orwell to a Swiss sanatorium, in a last ditch attempt to save his life –although he died of tuberculosis a few days before the scheduled departure.

Girl and Self Portrait is testament Sonia’s famed loyalty as a friend. Indeed, despite her financial need later in life, Sonia kept the drawing to the end. During the seven decades that the drawing remained in her homet he work was only lent once for exhibition, shortly after she received the gift, for Freud’s now historic 1948 show at the London Gallery.

This arresting pen and ink drawing, heightened with coloured crayon, was initially intended to illustrate a reproduction of Flyda of the Seas: a Fairy Tale for Grown Ups, a book by Princess Marie Bonaparte, Sigmund Freud’s disciple and patron. It was Marie Bonaparte’s idea to commission Freud’s grandson to do the illustrations for her book in 1947 when translated from the French by John Rodker’s Imago Publishing Company, thoughhis illustrations did not end up being included in the edition. As a gift the drawing couldn't have been more suitable for the ‘girl from the fiction department’-an image created initially to accompany a text, but one that pulsates with the emotional intensity between the artist and model/lover, a theme that Freud was to explore for the next 60 years.
12 November 2014 

 LUCIAN FREUD (1922-2011)

 Sotheby's 2015

Lucian Freud

Estimate     600,000 — 800,000  GBP
 LOT SOLD. 785,000 GBP

Sotheby's 2014

Lucian Freud
Estimate   2,500,000 — 3,500,000  GBP
 LOT SOLD. 2,994,500 GBP 

Sotheby's 2011

Lucian Freud
Estimate   3,000,000 — 4,000,000  GBP
 LOT SOLD. 3,177,250 GBP