Frank Auerbach (b. 1931)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Frank Auerbach (b. 1931)

Head of E.O.W. I

Frank Auerbach (b. 1931)
Head of E.O.W. I
oil on board
10 7/8 x 6 ¾in. (27.5 x 17cm.)
Painted in 1967
Marlborough Fine Art Ltd., London.
Keith Milow, London.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's London, 3 December 1992, lot 44.
Waddington Galleries, London.
Acquired from the above by Jeremy Lancaster, 7 December 1992.
W. Feaver, Frank Auerbach, New York 2009, no. 231 (illustrated in colour, p. 263; incorrectly titled 'Head of E.O.W. II').
London, Marlborough Fine Art Ltd., Frank Auerbach, 1971, p. 7, no. 2.
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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Lot Essay

Head of E.O.W. I, 1967, is a vivid, potent late portrait of Estella Olive West, capturing an electric point in perhaps the most important relationship in Frank Auerbach’s life. He takes the thickness of his paint to a new extreme, and his bold pigments, including blazing greens and squeezed-out ropes of red, are turned up to searing heat. The work is astonishingly compact and energetic. Auerbach’s fierce creative and personal dialogue with Stella – who sat for him three times a week over two decades – was often fractious, and Head of E.O.W. I is depth-charged with psychological drama. ‘I think life drawing from the body of a stranger is a fine thing in an art school,’ Auerbach once reflected, ‘but there’s a real reason for recording someone whom one’s close to. For one thing one knows exactly whether it’s “like” or not. For another, if the person has wakened one’s mind, one knows what’s not worthy of her, so one isn’t going to pull any funny little tricks. Besides, if you're working with someone with whom you are involved, she may get fed up; you might quarrel; she may find it an intolerable burden and punish you by not sitting for you. The whole thing’s got a totally different sort of tension from the simple transaction with a hired model’ (F. Auerbach, quoted in R. Hughes, Frank Auerbach, London 1990, p. 133). Aglow with complex feeling and audacious formal invention, Head of E.O.W. I stands among Auerbach’s most concentrated and fluent paintings. As David Sylvester has observed, ‘paint laid on with quite outrageous prodigality can be not only seductive but most subtly and mysteriously alive’ (D. Sylvester, ‘Young English Painting’, Listener, 12 January 1956, p. 64).

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