• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7595

    20th Century British Art

    6 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 57

    Lucian Freud, O.M., C.H. (b. 1922)

    The Sparrowhawk

    Price Realised  


    Lucian Freud, O.M., C.H. (b. 1922)
    The Sparrowhawk
    signed and dated 'Lucian Freud/May 1947' (upper right)
    conté crayon on buff paper
    6 x 8½ in. (15.2 x 21.6 cm.)

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    Freud's early work was characterised by a perfectionism of form as well as of surface finish. The present work, executed in conté crayon in black and white on buff paper is gem-like in its detail. Each work was also typically peculiar for a vein of surrealist fantasy and humour. Initially the present work would seem not to conform to this, until one considers the unlikelihood of the juxtaposition of a sparrowhawk sitting on the neck of a rocking horse. In reality this was not so surprising, Freud had a particular affection for birds and in the late 1940s kept a pair of sparrowhawks in his studio. Waldemar Hansen visiting the studio in 1947 commented, 'There is a zebra-head on the wall, an old-fashioned phonograph with a huge horn, and a live falcon which swoops around the room and alights on the master's wrist' (see M. Sheldon, Friends of Promise: Cyril Connolly and the World of Horizon, London, 1990, p. 184).

    Edouard Léon Théodore Mesens (1903-1971), the first owner of the present work, was a Belgian artist and writer associated with the Surrealist movement. Editor of the surrealistic periodical The London Bulletin between 1938-40, and co-organiser of the London International Surrealist Exhibition in 1936 he later ran the London Gallery with Roland Penrose.

    Special Notice

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    Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.


    E.L.T. Mesens.
    with London Gallery where purchased by the present owner in 1950 for £15.