LUCIAN FREUD (1922-2011)
LUCIAN FREUD (1922-2011)
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LUCIAN FREUD (1922-2011)

Annabel Portrait III

LUCIAN FREUD (1922-2011)
Annabel Portrait III
oil on canvas
14 x 12 1⁄8in. (35.5 x 30.7cm.)
Painted in 1987
James Kirkman, London.
Private Collection, New York.
Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1989.
B. Bernard and D. Birdsall (eds.), Lucian Freud, London 1996, p. 265, no. 224 (illustrated in colour, p. 264).
Washington D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Lucian Freud Paintings, 1987-1988, p. 133, no. 96 (illustrated in colour, p. 125). This exhibition later travelled to Paris, Musée National d’Art Moderne; London, Hayward Gallery and Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie.

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Claudia Schürch
Claudia Schürch Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Painted in 1987, during the finest period of Lucian Freud’s portrait practice, Annabel Portrait III is a warm and tender tribute to his second eldest daughter. Included in the artist’s 1987 touring retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D. C., it was acquired by the present owner two years later, and has been unseen in public ever since. Annabel was the younger of two daughters born to Freud’s first wife Kitty Garman. The latter had been one of the artist’s most important early muses, immortalised in Girl with a Kitten (1947, Tate, London), Girl with a White Dog (1950-1951, Tate, London) and Girl with Roses (1947-1948, British Council Collection). Annabel herself sat for five major paintings on canvas from adolescence onwards, including a 1967 portrait held in the New Art Gallery, Walsall. The present work is the third of these. Intimately observed from an elevated vantage point, its rich impasto charts the light on her skin and hair, demonstrating the exquisite modulations of colour and texture that defined Freud’s practice at its height.

The 1980s saw Freud ascend to the international stage, and take his place among the greats. The Hirshhorn retrospective, which travelled to the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, the Hayward Gallery, London, and Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie, made him a household name. In its catalogue, the critic Robert Hughes declared him ‘the greatest living realist painter’, while Paul Richard—reviewing the show for The Washington Post—wrote that ‘Lucian Freud belongs, and is aware that he belongs, to the aristocracy of the masters’ (R. Hughes, ‘On Lucian Freud’, in Lucian Freud: Paintings, exh. cat. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 1987, p. 7; P. Richard, ‘The Faces of Freud’, The Washington Post, 15 September 1987). Shortly before the exhibition’s opening, Freud had been invited to choose twenty-nine paintings for ‘The Artist’s Eye’ exhibition series at the National Gallery in London, selecting works by Rembrandt, Constable, Ingres and Degas. The present painting, with its extraordinary chromatic range, near-sculptural brushwork and intricately studied chiaroscuro, places him firmly within this heritage.

Freud had first been introduced to Kitty Garman through his former girlfriend Lorna Wishart, who happened to be her aunt. She was the daughter of the sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein and had studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. While her marriage to Freud was short-lived, their relationship gave rise to some of his most significant paintings, marking the flourishing of the crisp precision and clarity that defined his early output. The marriage also produced two children: Annabel, born in 1952, and her older sister Annie, born four years earlier. Freud depicted both of them as youngsters; Epstein, too—their grandfather—would capture their infant forms in sculpture. Annabel began sitting for her father in earnest in her mid-teens, giving rise to the 1967 portrait and a further work of 1972. By the time of the present painting, she was married and in her thirties. Freud began the remarkable portrait Annabel Sleeping that same year, completing it in 1988, followed by a full-length nude portrait in 1990.

Working in his Holland Park studio, Freud made some of his most bold and daring works during the 1980s. His career-defining self-portraits of 1981-1982 and 1985, in particular, would break new ground, paving the way for his monumental portraits of Leigh Bowery and Sue Tilley during the following decade. At the same time, however, the period was one of personal introspection, defined by a quiet but enduring focus on his children. While Annabel and Annie had been part of Freud’s life since their early years, others—including Esther, Bella and the Boyt siblings—had only recently begun to connect with their father. All of them would feature with increasing intensity in his art during this period: a shift embodied in the 1981-1983 masterpiece Large Interior, W11 (After Watteau), featuring multiple figures from Freud’s sprawling family tree. ‘I only paint the people who are close to me’, he later claimed, ‘and who closer than my children?’ (L. Freud, quoted in W. Feaver, Lucian Freud, London 2002, p. 20). In the soft, radiant glow of Annabel Portrait III, this statement finds poignant affirmation.

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