LUCIAN FREUD (1922-2011)
LUCIAN FREUD (1922-2011)
LUCIAN FREUD (1922-2011)
LUCIAN FREUD (1922-2011)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION
LUCIAN FREUD (1922-2011)

Seaside Garden

LUCIAN FREUD (1922-2011)
Seaside Garden
signed with the artist's initials 'L.F.' (lower right)
ink and crayon on paper
5 x 7in. (12.7 x 17.8cm.)
Executed in 1944
The Lefevre Gallery, London.
Collection of Roderick Cameron, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
Private Collection, Geneva.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's London, 27 June 1991, lot 2.
Collection of Stanley J. Seeger, USA.
His sale, Sotheby's New York, 8 May 2001, lot 1.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
M. Gayford, Lucian Freud, vol. 1, London 2018, p. 323 (illustrated in colour, p. 92).
G. Aloi, Lucian Freud: Herbarium, London 2019 (illustrated in colour, pp. 70-71).
London, The Lefevre Gallery, New Paintings and Drawings by Lucian Freud, Felix Kelly and Julian Trevelyan, 1944, p. 1, no. 3.
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. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

Executed in 1944, when the artist was just twenty-one years old, Seaside Garden is an exquisite landscape study by Lucian Freud. The picture is alive with the exacting vision typical of his early drawings. Using crayon and pencil, he maps a wall’s every stone in devoted detail: each is uniquely shaped, and variously pitted with pockmarks or blushed with pearlescent shades of blue, yellow and brown. Bright green shoots sprout like sparks from a bed of blue-black soil. Different types of plant clamber across the wall, their foliage ranging from finger-like branches to dark sprays of broad leaves and starbursts of pink and yellow flowers. Part of a building, and a polychrome bank of pebbles, can be glimpsed to the left. The sea and sky, meanwhile, are conveyed in soft, scarcely differentiated fields of grey: it is the busy, close-up life of the foreground that interests the young artist, rather than the unknown distance of the horizon. In November 1944, alongside such seminal pictures as Rabbit on a Chair, Scotch Thistle and Boy with a Pigeon, Seaside Garden was included in his debut one-man show at the Lefevre Gallery on New Bond Street. The exhibition was responsible, as Bruce Bernard writes, for ‘establishing Freud as the figure he would continue to be—entirely singular, intriguing and provocative’ (B. Bernard, ‘Thinking about Lucian Freud,’ in Lucian Freud, London 1996, p. 11).

The jewel-like, almost surreal resolution of Seaside Garden is born of a preternatural focus evident in Freud from an early age. ‘People who met Freud in his middle teens, and a lot of people did, recognised his force immediately; fly, perceptive, lithe, with a hint of menace’, writes Lawrence Gowing. ‘I met him first in the winter of 1938-39 when he was fifteen or sixteen and already spoken of as a boy-wonder’ (L. Gowing, Lucian Freud, London, 1982, p. 9). The Freuds had moved from Berlin to London in 1933; the young Lucian spent the year of 1938 at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London, before joining Cedric Morris’s East Anglian School in Dedham in 1939. Despite accidentally burning the school down with a careless cigarette, he stayed on with Morris, painting flowerpots and cacti in the artist’s stable in Langham. After a brief spell in the Merchant Navy in 1942, he returned to the school’s new location at Hadleigh, Sussex. Early in 1944, he moved with his friend John Craxton to Delamere Terrace, Paddington, where his life as an artist truly began. Seaside Garden was likely drawn in Tenby, South Wales, on one of several coastal holidays Freud and Craxton took that year.

The influence of Morris, a keen botanist and precise painter, can be felt in many of Freud’s earliest works. He depicted people only sporadically during this period, for the most part honing his vision on other life-forms, from crystalline thistles and potted palms to deceased puffins, rabbits and monkeys. The botanical and animal studies of Albrecht Dürer—with their subjects appearing, astonishingly realised, amid a blank page’s empty space—offer an intriguing parallel: Dürer’s masterpiece The Large Piece of Turf (1503), a print of which hung in Freud’s boyhood apartment in Berlin, anticipates the present work’s dense, microcosmic beauty and unwavering treatment of detail. Plants would retain a special significance throughout Freud’s life. Years later, he would depict his own garden in Holland Park with similar precision in paint, describing the intricate canvas Two Plants (1977-80, Tate Gallery) as ‘lots of little portraits of leaves’ (L. Freud, quoted in W. Feaver, The Lives of Lucian Freud: Fame 1968-2011, London 2019, p. 112). In Seaside Garden, Freud likewise brings every plant and pebble to compelling, individual life.

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