Just In: An Etching from British Painter Lucian Freud

October 30, 2014

 Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Detail of After Chardin (Small Plate) (2000), Lucian Freud, Modern Art & Design Auction, March 1, 2015

Los Angeles Modern Auctions is pleased to present an etching from Lucian Freud (1922-2011), the British painter thought to have revolutionized and modernized figural painting and portraiture with his realist, almost brutal depictions of the human form. His famous portraits include controversial images of personalities ranging from Queen Elizabeth II to supermodel Kate Moss. On offer at LAMA is After Chardin (2000), a small but powerful etching that provides rare insight into Freud’s working methods and deep passion for depicting human physiognomy.

A renowned artist, Freud had the special privilege of being allowed entry into the National Gallery in London at any given time that might have possessed him, even during the wee hours of the night when no one was there. This particular etching was created after 18th century French painter Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin’s The Young Schoolmistress (c. 1735-6), a work that continues to hang in the entry floor galleries of the National Gallery. As a means of connecting and interacting with a work of art that he held in high esteem, Freud copied the image several times in both painting and etching. He admired the earnest expression of the young teacher as she tutored her charge and the delicately rendered facial features. Speaking of the original painting, Freud rhapsodized that this was an instance of “the most beautiful ear in art.” For the particular etching on offer, Freud indulges himself and focuses on this detail alone—the schoolteacher’s ear is the focal point of the composition, framed by her hair, bonnet, cheek, eye, and a portion of her nose. Such close cropping creates an almost abstracted view of a highly detailed figural subject, and puts the viewer in the exciting position of empathy with Freud’s literal and metaphorical vision and motivations.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

After Chardin (Small Plate) (2000), Lucian Freud, Modern Art & Design Auction, March 1, 2015

The etching, After Chardin, completed by a German-born British artist after a French master, has a special connection to our city of Los Angeles, and comes together with print documentation and a letter of appreciation from MOCA. The MOCA Portfolio (1999), which included six limited edition prints from artists Vija Celmins, Ann Hamilton, Brice Marden, Martin Puryear, Ed Ruscha, and Richard Serra in a box designed by architect Frank Gehry, was originally slated to include Freud, but the timeline of the project ultimately prohibited him from participating. This etching was gifted to the current consignor directly from MOCA and its board as a sign of appreciation for their support of the museum.

Figura, Starr. “Starr Figura on Lucian Freud.” Lecture, Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario, April 14, 2009. Web. 27 Oct 2014.
Grieg, Geordie. Breakfast with Lucian: The Astounding Life and Outrageous Times of Britain’s Greatest Painter. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2013. p 7. Google Ebook.
Grimes, William. “Lucian Freud, Figurative Painter Who Redefined Portraiture, Is Dead at 88.” The New York Times, 21 July 2011. Web. 27 Oct 2014.

Lot Information:

Lucian Freud
After Chardin (Small Plate)
Published by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Hardground line etching on Somerset White 300 gram paper
#1 of 80
Artist’s initials in pencil lower right margin of sheet beneath image; edition lower left; artist’s initials in plate lower left image
Together with print documentation and letter from MOCA
Image: 6″ x 7.75″; Sheet: 15″ x 19.875″
Provenance: MOCA, Los Angeles, California; Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (gifted directly by the above, 2000)
Literature: Figura, Starr. Lucian Freud: The Painter’s Etchings. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007. p 33.
Estimate: $8,000 – 12,000

Leave a Reply