Please note this work has been requested for the Lucian Freud Drawings exhibition being curated by William Feaver in London and New York, February-June 2012.
'Everything is equally there, and must be equally described. This objectivity, this evenness of attention mingled with a barely veiled otherness of all objects - rooms, faces, plants, furniture - lies at the core of Freud's early work'
(R. Hughes, Lucian Freud Paintings, London 1987, p. 13).
Curled up within the soft upholstery of its comforting armchair, Lucian Freud's The Sleeping Cat is a drawing abundant with life. The small black mass of the cat's body appears warm with breath and heavy with sleep, the fur on its back rendered almost tactile through the careful strokes of Freud's pen. The blanketed armchair fills the remaining paper; its striped patterning articulated in black ink, undulating over the surfaces of the furniture. In this drawing, Freud demonstrates his remarkable and early aptitude for draughtsmanship, hatching and cross-hatching form, volume and surface with the deft nib and stroke of his pen. In The Sleeping Cat, Freud depicts for the first and only time in his oeuvre, the figure of a cat. While he himself has never had a particular affinity or affection for cats, his mother and father were especially fond. It is perhaps in this context, as a loving tribute that we should understand The Sleeping Cat. Freud's mother Lucie in particular had always been an avid proponent of her son's work, indulging his ability and treasuring each work he gave her. Their bond was to continue throughout the artist's life.
Freud was only in his early twenties when he realised The Sleeping Cat, and was barely concerned with style. His central focus was on the importance of shape and texture, taking extreme care to express the bristling fur of an animal, the silken barb of a feather, the fold of a hand, the crease of an elbow or the shape of an eye. This devotion to detail is particularly apparent in The Sleeping Cat. As Robert Hughes has suggested, 'everything is equally there, and must be equally described. This objectivity, this evenness of attention mingled with a barely veiled otherness of all objects - rooms, faces, plants, furniture - lies at the core of Freud's early work' (R. Hughes, Lucian Freud Paintings, London 1987, p. 13). KA