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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTION

Catherine Lampert Seated II

Catherine Lampert Seated II
oil on canvas
22 x 20 1/8in. (56 x 51cm.)
Painted in 1991
Private Collection, London (acquired directly from the artist).
Anon. sale, Christie's London, 23 June 2005, lot 23.
Richard Green Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2015.
W. Feaver, Frank Auerbach, New York 2009, no. 668 (illustrated in colour, p. 315; titled 'Catherine Lampert Seated').
W. Feaver, Frank Auerbach, New York 2022, no. 668 (illustrated in colour, p. 357; titled 'Catherine Lampert Seated').
Jerusalem, The Israel Museum, British Figurative Painting of the 20th Century, 1992-1993, p. 28, no. 18 (illustrated in colour, p. 27; incorrectly titled 'Portrait of Catherine Lampert II').
Mexico City, Museo de Arte Moderno, La Mirada Fuerte: Pintura figurativa de Londres, 2000, no. 64 (illustrated, p. 85). This exhibition later travelled to Monterrey, Museo de Monterrey.
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. Christie's has provided a minimum price guarantee and has a direct financial interest in this lot. Christie's has financed all or a part of such interest through a third party. Such third parties generally benefit financially if a guaranteed lot is sold. See the Important Notices in the Conditions of Sale for more information.

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Michelle McMullan
Michelle McMullan Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Painted in 1991, and shown in two group exhibitions over the ensuing decade, the present work is a vibrant portrait of Frank Auerbach’s great friend, biographer and muse Catherine Lampert. From warm, luminous swathes of red and yellow impasto, the artist conjures the living, breathing vitality of her form, every stroke alive with tactility and movement. A leading scholar of Auerbach’s work, and a noted authority on modern British art, Lampert was serving as Director of the Whitechapel Gallery, London at the time of the painting. She had first begun sitting for Auerbach some thirteen years prior, and went on to become one of the most significant writers on his practice, curating his major retrospective at the Royal Academy of Arts, London in 2001, and authoring his seminal biography Frank Auerbach: Speaking and Painting in 2015. As a subject she played a definitive role in his practice, gaining—in turn—remarkable first-hand knowledge of his painterly methods. Catherine Lampert Seated II glows with the light of mutual understanding: of communion between two friends bound by a love of art, who deeply nourished one another’s work.

Auerbach preferred to work from a small handful of subjects whom he grew to know intimately, revisiting their forms and features across long, extended periods. He had first met Lampert in 1978 when she was in her early 30s: she was working on his retrospective at the Hayward Gallery, and had conducted an extensive interview with him for the catalogue. ‘He asked me to sit for him’, she recalls. ‘I was very keen on his work, and I’d seen every picture of his I could, in preparation for the show. So I agreed’ (C. Lampert, quoted in L. Barnett, ‘Sitting for Frank Auerbach’, The Guardian, 30 September 2015). Over the following years she would visit his studio up to twice a week, featuring in more than seventy portraits that extended the enquiries set in motion by his earlier muses Stella West (E.O.W.), Juliet Yardley Mills (J.Y.M.) and his wife Julia. For an artist who engaged deeply with the painters of the past—from Rembrandt and Soutine to Picasso, de Kooning and Giacometti—it is perhaps unsurprising that art historians would come to populate his oeuvre like family members: others have included William Feaver—author of his catalogue raisonné—and David Landau.

By the time of the present work, Auerbach had been painting for almost four decades, and had taken his place firmly on the international stage. His methods, however, remained largely unchanged in spirit, and Lampert has spoken eloquently of his processes. Seated just metres away from his easel, on a chair that was replaced only once over the decades, she observed how ‘Auerbach moves noisily around the room, looks at the painting in the mirror, turns the canvas, stands back and then rushes up, and like darts or writing on the blackboard fairly brutally tries the next throw or cancels the previous one. He is continuously active, drawing in the air, talking to himself, hardly pausing’ (C. Lampert, Frank Auerbach Paintings and Drawings 1954-2001, exh. cat. Royal Academy of Arts, London 2001, p. 62). The finished paintings, hard won over extensive sessions of scraping away and repainting, reflected more than just her likeness: ‘I can recognise unique things about my skull, posture, preoccupations, fantasies, really my whole life’, she has explained (C. Lampert in conversation with P. Ordovás, Christie’s, 23 June 2005). The present work’s near-sculptural surface captures the visceral joy of coming to know another person through paint, each gesture, form and colour infused with the very embers of life itself.

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