Frank Auerbach (b. 1931)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Frank Auerbach (b. 1931)

Mornington Crescent, Dawn

Details
Frank Auerbach (b. 1931)
Mornington Crescent, Dawn
oil on canvas
18 x 15½in. (45.7 x 39.5cm.)
Painted in 1992
Provenance
Marlborough Fine Art Ltd., London (40786.6).
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1993.
Special notice

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.
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium

Lot Essay

The violet-pink that dominates so much of the canvas in Mornington Crescent, Dawn, painted in 1992, perfectly conveys a sense of sun-tinted morning sky. The large part of this painting is light, and this lightness is brought all the more to the fore by its contrast with the dark and heavy architecture that is clustered as though towards the edges. This painting breathes with the reality of a true and experienced moment, Auerbach perfectly capturing the feel of the dawn as the sun rises in the artist's much-loved Mornington Crescent, near the his studio. In painting his landscapes, Auerbach often rises early in order to create sketches which he then later translates into oils in his studio. The spontaneity and immediacy of the drawings therefore manages to flavour the oil painting, as though by osmosis or inheritance, the spirit transferring itself from one medium to the other. In Mornington Crescent, Dawn, this sense of immediacy is immeasurably increased by the virtuoso colourism by which Auerbach has captured the tones of the sky.

While this may indeed feel like the product of a moment that has been captured, made still, the process by which Auerbach paints means that it may well have taken days and days for that moment to have finally congealed in the picture. Each time that Auerbach approaches a painting, he scrapes off the previous work and attacks the theme once more, often from a different angle. And yet this is far from a tabula rasa. For on the surface remain traces of the previous attempts. Gradually, through this process, what could almost be considered the spirit of the memory accumulates, finally reaching a critical mass. This process results in a vivid and lively picture-surface that is full of contrasts, of traces of the artist's own movements and decisions. And through this, and through the impasto that seems almost to bleed into the world of the viewer, Auerbach manages to convey more than a memory of Mornington Crescent at dawn. He manages to make the viewer feel that moment. As he explained in words that are as true of his landscapes, 'I felt that there was an area of experience - the haptic, the tangible, what you feel when you touch somebody next to you in the dark that hadn't perhaps been recorded in painting before' (Auerbach, quoted in C. Lampert, N. Rosenthal & I. Carlisle (eds.), Frank Auerbach Paintings and Drawings 1954-2001, exh. cat., London 2001, p. 23). This is made all the more the case in Mornington Crescent, Dawn through its subtle colouring and absorbing, intimate scale.
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