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Signed Print Edition of 46
H 48cm x W 36cm
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Joe Syer, Head of Urban & Contemporary Art
This etching was created by Lucian Freud in 2003. The etching is the product of an exhibition of British painter John Constable's works, selected and curated by Freud. The exhibition, staged at the Grand Palais in Paris in 2002, revealed Freud's respect for Constable's dedication to capturing reality and the influence of him on Freud's oeuvre. It was from this exhibition that this etching emerged, appearing on the frontispiece of the exhibition catalogue. The etching reimagines Constable's oil painting Study Of The Trunk Of An Elm Tree. With layer upon layer of hatched mark-making, Freud mimics Constable's original elm tree. Behind the tree at the centre of the composition, Freud captures the hazy landscape, leaving small areas of the printing plate untouched to reveal the sky beyond the trees.
Both famed artists in their own lifetimes, John Constable and Lucian Freud have more than their celebrity artist status in common. When curating a retrospective exhibition of Constable's work in 2002, Freud embedded his own works into the show to reveal the influence of the British painter on his work. Separated by over a century in time, the artists of course have their differences. Constable was a trained Romantic and dedicated landscape painter. Freud's work, on the other hand, is sometimes unpleasant in its realism and he focused primarily on portraits. However, one landscape by Constable entranced Freud throughout his artistic career. After witnessing Constable's Study Of The Trunk Of An Elm Tree, Freud attempted to mimic the work as a student to no avail. For the purpose of this 2002 exhibition however, he returned to the subject and executed it with a maturity and mastery of line so distinct to Freud.
John Constable once said: "I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may, light shade, and perspective always make it beautiful." Indeed, Freud often depicted people and places with a painstaking realism, finding beauty in what other artists might have omitted. After Constable's Elm reveals Freud's unique ability to convey light, shade, and perspective with line and black ink alone.