Lucian Freud - Evening & Day Editions London Thursday, June 6, 2024 | Phillips
  • “With etching; there’s an element of danger and mystery. You don’t know how it’s going to come out. What’s black is white. What’s left is right.”
    —Lucian Freud

    Etching was the only print medium that Lucian Freud ever worked with. The artist admired etching’s close relationship with drawing and, unconventionally, would position his copper etching plate upright on an easel, incising the image like one would a painting. Nonetheless, it was “the element of danger and mystery” embedded in the etching process that enthralled Freud. Just as in many of his paintings, Freud's etchings feature deeply personal subjects, such as friends, dogs, self-portraits and landscapes of his garden. His etchings, however, were never copies of paintings, but were conceived independently and produced across multiple sittings. 


    Head and Shoulders exemplifies Freud’s meticulous, highly skilled draughtsmanship and the heightened sense of realism it creates. Finely-etched lines intricately trace the tone and form of the sitter’s face, hair and décolletage. The closely-cropped composition presents the figure from a top-down view, isolated against a starkly blank background. Such framing generates a psychological tension, suggesting an intimate rapport between artist and subject in a manner quintessential of Freud’s oeuvre. With its striking honesty, Head and Shoulders encapsulates Freud’s renowned skill in capturing the essence of his sitter with poignant yet delicate clarity.

    • Literature

      Craig Hartley 21
      Toby Treves 15

    • Artist Biography

      Lucian Freud

      British • 1922 - 2011

      Renowned for his unflinching observations, Lucian Freud is considered one of the greatest figurative artists. He pushed the boundaries of decorum in terms of classical portraiture and nudes in order to explore his lifelong concern to honestly render the human figure, in what he called his "naked portraits."

      In his paintings, Freud's layers of impasto jabs of paint create a surprisingly delicate, translucent depiction of flesh, while his etchings employ an economy of line that implies the figure more than it illustrates it. Charismatic but irascible, Freud worked only from sitters that he knew, consistently focusing on translating his direct perceptions. The resulting portraits are redolent with a stark and evocative psychological intensity, underpinned by an unexpected tenderness towards the subject.

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Head and Shoulders (H. 21, T. 15)

Etching with drypoint, on wove paper, with full margins.
I. 24.5 x 29.9 cm (9 5/8 x 11 3/4 in.)
S. 37.5 x 41.3 cm (14 3/4 x 16 1/4 in.)

Signed with initials and annotated 'STUDIO PROOF' in pencil, the second (final) state (one of several unnumbered proofs, the edition was 20 and 8 artist's proofs), co-published by James Kirkman and Anthony d'Offay, London, framed.

Full Cataloguing

£5,000 - 7,000 ‡♠

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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 6 - 7 June 2024