Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction in London on 10 February 2016, - Richter, Freud

 Sotheby’s London Contemporary Art Evening auction on 10 February2016 will be led by one of only a handful of truly spectacular examples of Gerhard Richter’s Abstrakte Bilderremaining in private hands–a monumental canvas from 1990, previously held in the private collection of the artist. Painted in 1990,  

Abstraktes Bild (725-4)remained in the artist’s private collection, away from the public eye, until 1996 when it was unveiled atan exhibition of his personal paintings atthe Carre d’Art in Nimes: “Gerhard Richter: 100 Pictures”. The work has not been exhibited publically since.Acquired by the current owner via Marian Goodman and Anthony d’Offay in 1996, Abstraktes Bildwill now be offered at auction for the very first time, with an estimate of £14-20 million (US$ 

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.