Sea Bird by Lucian Freud set to take flight at Bonhams sale of Modern British and Irish art in London

Modern British and Irish Art
29 May 2013
London, New Bond Street

Nothing was exempt from the intense scrutiny of Lucian Freud, rotund ladies, his mother, his daughters in the nude and a moribund puffin, now for sale at Bonhams Modern British and Irish art auction on May 29th in New Bond Street.

The pen and ink with crayon by Lucian Freud (British, 1922-2011) titled 'Oil-bound Puffin' is signed and dated 'Lucian Freud/Oct 44' and is estimated to sell for £200,000-300,000. A grandson of Sigmund Freud, Lucian Freud arrived in England with his family from Berlin in 1933 at the age of ten.

This drawing by one of the worlds most sought after artists was executed when he was just 22 and is consigned from an important private London collection. It was exhibited in London at the Alex Reid & Lefevre Gallery in November 1944, which was the artist's first exhibition, and sold for 13 guineas. Already one can see the unremitting and forensic accuracy he is known for.

During his early career Freud preferred working on paper to painting, as in this exquisite example. He once said that he "did 200 drawings to every painting in those early days".

Matthew Bradbury, Director of the Modern British and Irish Art Department at Bonhams, comments: "The enormous appeal of 'Oil-bound Puffin' lies in the bird's serenity and minute attention to detail of every single feather. Appearing at auction for the very first time and unseen in half a century the work will be exhibited at Bonhams in New York prior to sale in London".

Freud very early on established his own artistic identity in meticulously executed realist works, imbued with a pervasive distance. Most of his career was spent in Paddington, London, whose atmosphere is reflected in his often sombre and moody interiors and cityscapes.

By the late 1950s he began to describe the face and body in terms of shape and structure, and often in female nudes the brushstrokes help to suggest shape. Throughout his career Freud's palette remained distinctly muted.

A close relationship with sitters was often important for Freud. His mother sat for an extensive series in the early 1970s after she was widowed, and his daughters Bella and Esther modelled nude, together and individually. Although the human form dominated his output, Freud also executed cityscapes, viewed from his studio window, and obsessively detailed nature studies. The 1980s and early 1990s were marked by increasingly ambitious compositions in terms of both scale and complexity.


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