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Elizabeth Peyton (b. 1965)
NEXT CHAPTER: CONTEMPORARY ART FROM A PRIVATE ITALIAN COLLECTION
Elizabeth Peyton (b. 1965)

(Dark) Harry

Details
Elizabeth Peyton (b. 1965)
(Dark) Harry
signed, titled and dated '(Dark) Harry Elizabeth Peyton August 2002' (on the reverse)
oil on board
14 ¼ x 11 1/8in. (36 x 28.2cm.)
Executed in 2002
Provenance
Sadie Coles HQ, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Exhibited
London, The Royal Academy of Art, The Galleries Show 2002 – Contemporary Art in London, 2002.

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Lot Essay

‘It’s almost a nineteenth century idea that what’s on the inside appears on the outside. Balzac was into the curve of your nose or mouth expressing some kind of inner quality, that it could be read on your face.’
—ELIZABETH PEYTON

Elizabeth Peyton’s serenely contemplative small-scale works have made her one of the leading portraitists working today. Depicting her beloved Rhodesian Ridgeback Pit Bull cross Harry, (Dark) Harry (2002) possesses the tranquility and warm palette characteristic of Peyton’s work, but in the painting’s attention to detail – Peyton painstakingly reproduces her phone number on the dog’s collar – and exquisite brushwork it achieves an exceptional tenderness; delicately rendering Harry against the loose, bright blues and greens of the background, her mastery of light and shade give her subject a remarkable interior complexity. As the left side of Harry’s face is lost in shadow, his right is bathed in light, sharply contrasting with an inky black eye that seems to contain unexpected emotional depths – unlike in many of Peyton’s portraits, where the subject looks wistfully away in a show of emotional distance, here the dog’s eye meets the viewer’s, conveying a disarming sense of intimacy and emotional connection. Executed in her instantly recognisable, painterly style, Peyton’s work takes as its subject cultural icons from across history, ranging from Napoleon, Queen Elizabeth II and Jackie Kennedy to Kurt Cobain and Leonardo di Caprio, as well as figures from her own life – fellow artists, friends, lovers or, in the case of (Dark) Harry, pets.

'It's always about the person,’ Peyton has said about her practice, ‘making them there, making them look the best they can, and saving them forever.' (E. Peyton, quoted in L. Pilgram, 'An Interview with a Painter', Parkett 53, 1998, p. 59). Though there may be no ‘person’ present, (Dark) Harry’s subject is even more special; wishing to save her beloved dog forever, Peyton leaves us with a painting that seeks to memorialise him through especially sensitive, emotionally imaginative portraiture.

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