This estimate blends recent public auction records with our own private sale data and network demand.
Signed Print Edition of 46
H 36cm x W 48cm
Own this artwork?
Joe Syer, Head of Urban & Contemporary Art
This intimate etching was executed by Lucian Freud in 2004. Stretched across the centre of the composition is the pregnant nude figure of Annabel Mullion. Mullion, an actress and friend of Freud's, modelled for this reclining nude while pregnant with her fourth child, hence the foreboding title of the work. Apart from the white cushion Mullion's head rests upon, her pregnant body is pronounced by a dark background that clearly distinguishes her flesh in the foreground. Through loose and fluid lines leading to the bottom of the composition, Freud suggests the knitted texture of the throw she lies on. The juxtaposition in line and texture above and below her body serves to pronounce the curvature of her pregnant form.
Lucian Freud is famed not only for his painstakingly real approach to portraiture, but also for the sometimes gruelling sitting process he put his subjects through. Spending sometimes hundreds of hours - and even years - on singular portraits, the relationship Freud fostered with his sitters is intrinsic to our reading of his work. Before The Fourth is no exception to this. Even though the sitter - actress Annabel Mullion - was a friend of Freud's, he seems to have unlocked a new level of intimacy in this portrait of her nude, pregnant form. Capturing Mullion before the birth of her fourth child, Freud delineates her face with a tender softness. This rather adoring portrait is somewhat disrupted by Freud's treatment of her body. With his use of straight etched lines, he pronounces her swollen pregnant belly at the centre of the composition.
Through the contrasts in mark-making above and below her figure, Freud proves his ability to emulate tone and texture with his etching needle alone. Like so many of Freud's portraits, Before The Fourth likely took a lengthly time to execute, but is a poignant snapshot of his friend during her pregnancy.