'This part of London is my world. I've been wandering around these streets for so long that I have become attached to them, and as fond of them as people are of their pets.'
Previously owned by Joe Tilson, Primrose Hill, 1959, is one of only three recorded small scale paintings of his beloved Primrose Hill, that Auerbach painted at this time. One of the other two was owned by R.B. Kitaj and sold in these Rooms (The Collection of R.B. Kitaj, Christie’s, London, 7 February 2008, lot 357). Since becoming an art student in London, Auerbach chose to focus his landscape painting on a few select locations near his studio in Mornington Crescent, repeatedly depicting his surroundings in Camden Town and Primrose Hill.
Primrose Hill provides a strange tension as a subject: it is a rural space within the metropolis, a pool of Arcadia within the grime and bustle of the city. Painted in muted, earthy tones, as was typical of his early practice, Auerbach delineates the distinctive landmark on the right of the composition with typically confident sweeps of his palette knife and brush. A thick dense fog descends, fusing with the rich ochre of the ground coming up to meet it, the two becoming entwined. Auerbach's love of landscape is a love of London, a love of the familiar, condensed onto canvas. ‘I feel London is this raw thing ... This extraordinary, marvellously unpainted city where whenever somebody tries to get something going they stop halfway through, and next to it something incongruous occurs ... this higgledy-piggledy mess of a city’ (F. Auerbach, quoted in Art and Artists, June 1986, p. 27).