This estimate blends recent public auction records with our own private sale data and network demand.
Signed Print Edition of 25
H 27cm x W 22cm
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Joe Syer, Head of Urban & Contemporary Art
This etching was executed by Lucian Freud in 1982, and depicts the artist's elderly mother. Typical of his etched portraits, the composition is cropped to provide prime emphasis on the sitter's face alone. The monochromatic etching has a rather ghostly appeal, thanks to Freud's dizzying mark-making around her forehead and hair. The ink left on the etching plate during the printing process has left subtle imprints of ink on the paper, giving the overall work an atmospheric haze. With more intense hatching around her features, Freud draws attention to his mother's melancholic expression, particularly her unwavering gaze.
Freud's mother, Lucie Freud, was one of the artist's most avid sitters throughout his artistic career. She allegedly sat for her son no fewer than a thousand times over a decade, committing hundreds of hours to her son's observation of her portrait. After the death of Lucian's father, Ernst Freud, Lucie suffered from depression, and even attempted to take her own life. Perhaps as a way to deal with her grief, Lucie sat for Lucian more than ever in the period between 1972-84, with Lucian producing 18 portraits of her. The Painter's Mother is therefore not only Freud's tender representation of his ageing mother, but captures an experience between mother and son as they both mourned their loved one.
In most of his representations of his mother, Lucie is rarely looking directly at the viewer - or Freud - and usually gazes out of the frame completely. The Painter's Mother is a rare instance in which Lucie's gaze meets face to face with the viewer's. Her gaze seems to penetrate the two-dimensional surface of the print, and betrays her grief-stricken state. The intensity with which Freud depicted his mother here is the result of hours of lengthy sittings. We get the impression that the time Lucie spent sitting for this portrait, among many others, was time also spent navigating her grief with her beloved son.