This estimate blends recent public auction records with our own private sale data and network demand.
Signed Print Edition of 40
H 79cm x W 63cm
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Joe Syer, Head of Urban & Contemporary Art
Lucian Freud created this dramatic portrait of his "stepson", Kai Boyt, in 1991. This etched portrait of Kai is one of the most visually striking from our Family collection of Freud's work. Captured from a frontal viewpoint, Kai's head and shoulders appear at the centre of the composition, which is lit from above to give a powerful tonality to the overall portrait. Famed for his mastery over the etching medium, Kai reveals Freud's unique ability to convey the textures of flesh, and delineate the strong features of his face through bold marks on the etching plate.
Intensely dedicated to his craft, Freud was a somewhat distant father to his 14 acknowledged children. However, when his offspring gave him the chance to draw, paint, or etch their portrait, he built close and intense relationships with them during their lengthy sittings. Kai Boyt, son of fellow artist Suzy Boyt and half-brother to Isobel ("Ib") Boyt, is not Freud's biological son, but the artist always referred to him as his "stepson". Though Kai seems unable to look the viewer - or Freud - directly in the eye, this portrait is executed with such minute attention to detail that it reveals Freud's close observation of every part of his being. With minimal mark-making on his eyelids and eyelashes, Freud shows where the light hits his face, casting natural shadows down his cheeks. Freud painted Kai as a child, and created a series of paintings and etchings of him as a man, speaking to Freud's familiarity with his portrait and the uniquely close relationship between the two.
Freud would sometimes subject his sitters to months, if not years, modelling in the studio. This is not to say that Freud was a slow-worker, but that he felt it essential to meticulously observe his sitters to truly ascertain their character and translate it in his portraiture. Kai is testament to the success of this process: this is not only a portrait of a family member, but a psychologically penetrative study of someone he seemed to truly know and understand.