Lucian Freud (b. 1922)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF KAY SAATCHI
Lucian Freud (b. 1922)

Rabbit on a Chair

Lucian Freud (b. 1922)
Rabbit on a Chair
signed 'Lucian Freud' (lower right); dated 'April 44' (upper left)
pencil and crayon on paper
18 7/8 x 12¼in. (48 x 31cm.)
Executed in 1944
Lefevre Gallery, London.
The Hon. Roderick Cameron, St. Jean Cap Ferrat (acquired from the above in 1944).
Anon. sale, Sotheby's London, 18 October 1990, lot 7.
James Kirkman, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner circa 1990.
L. Gowing, Lucian Freud, London 1982, no. 36 (illustrated, p. 54). B. Bernard and D. Birdsall (eds.), Lucian Freud, London 1996, no. 35 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
M. Holborn (ed.), Lucian Freud On Paper, London 2008, no. 59 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
London, Lefevre Gallery, New Paintings and Drawings by Lucian Freud, Felix Kelly and Julian Trevelyan, 1944, no. 20.
Venice, XXVII Biennale Internazionale dell'Arte, 1954, no. 40.
London, The Hayward Gallery, Lucian Freud, 1974, no. 19 (illustrated, p. 43). This exhibition later travelled to Bristol, Bristol City Art Gallery; Birmingham, Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery and Leeds, Leeds City Museum and Art Gallery.
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.

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Alice de Roquemaurel
Alice de Roquemaurel

Lot Essay

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.

Executed in 1944, Lucian Freud's Rabbit on a Chair (1944) is a tender depiction of a rabbit delicately outstretched on a worn cane chair. The small creature with its legs neatly crossed and soft underbelly exposed, lays inanimate, eyes half closed as if at rest. Each fine detail of the creature is brought to the fore through Freud's skilled draughtsmanship: the slim black whiskers sprouting from its small nose, the white downy tail, the tall ears stretching up from its crown and the soft, mottled, golden-brown of its pelt. With equal care, Freud crafts the fronds of cane that make up the rabbit's resting place, making efforts to show the broken weave and shadows falling on the old chair.

This image is perhaps one of the most refined and charming of Freud's early works, paying tribute to his fascination with nature and investigating the ability to express faithful shape, tone and texture using an artist's tools. In this enterprise the young Freud was undoubtedly influenced by the work of Albrecht Dürer and Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, whose fine depictions of rabbits or hares, were created in watercolour, gouache or oil on canvas. Dürer's A Young Hare (1502), vital and almost tactile in its skilled execution, was certainly one of the prints that the Freud household owned in the 1940s and would most likely have informed the artist's realist approach to drawing. Freud's rabbit is built up of clean lines outlining the body of the animal and small pencil marks, sometimes little more than a millimetre, moving and curling in the varied directions of real fur. Dürer's hare is similarly composed, using a small or dry paintbrush to build up one hair at a time until the fur and the hare become animated. In Rabbit on a Chair (1944), Freud achieves the same effect, breathing the essence of life into the gentle creature through his studied empiricism.

The cane chair of the composition offers a geometrically patterned backdrop to the rabbit, completed in two tones of mustard yellow and brown. Here, Freud experiments with the visual possibilities of repetition, using the vertical and horizontal striations of the chair to almost fix the rabbit in place and heighten its physical presence. This foray into repeated motif does not mark an interest in abstraction for Freud, but a tool with which to capture the viewer's attention. Looking across the surface of the drawing, ones eyes are constantly drawn back to the centre of the picture plane to gaze at the solitary creature. This concept has remained a part of Freud's practice, clearly showcased in the patterned bedspreads of Blond Girl on a Bed (1987). KA

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