Portrait of Christopher Dark signed and dated 'Auerbach/1977' (lower left) and again indistinctly (lower right) charcoal and chalk on paper 73.7 x 55.9 cm. (29 x 22 in.)
PROVENANCE: Miss Lloyd, London With Marlborough Fine Art Private Collection, U.K.
EXHIBITED: Venice, The British Arts Council, Venice Biennale, June - September 1986, no.1, where lent by Miss Lloyd London, The Royal Academy of Arts, Frank Auerbach: Paintings and Drawings 1954 - 2001, 14 Sept - 12 Dec 2001, No.60
LITERATURE: William Feaver, Frank Auerbach, Rizzoli, New York, 2009, p.281, no.384 (col.ill.) Catherine Lampert, Norman Rosenthal and Isabel Carlisle, Frank Auerbach Paintings and Drawings 1954-2001, Royal Academy of Arts, London 2001, cat.no.106, p.137 (b&w ill.) Frank Auerbach Paintings and Drawings 1977-1985, British Pavilion, Venice Biennale, The British Arts Council, London 1986, no.1, p.18 (b&w ill.)
Chris Dark worked with Marlborough Galleries before moving to New York and changing career. Auerbach executed four versions of this drawing with the present work being not only the first but arguably the most successful. These multiple sittings are typical of how the artist works and at this stage he was using charcoal, although later began to incorporate pencil.
Unlike many of his drawings, the present work displays a certain clarity. He often rubbed out and reworked so severely that the paper would begin to disintegrate. Zigzagged and crossed strokes would indicate where Auerbach had changed his mind. Here though, the lines are strong and decisive. The sitters hairline, spectacles and ears are all rendered with sure hand. The third and fourth version of Chris Dark are more sketchy with him looking the other direction.
Earlier this year a new auction record was set (at over £1m) for a work on paper by Auerbach. This fine character study has never before been offered for sale and is a superb example of the artist's draughtsmanship.
We are grateful to Catherine Lampert for her assistance in cataloguing this lot.