'...I longed to go to France and couldn't, so went to the Scilly Isles'
(Freud, quoted in William Feaver, 'Lucian Freud: Life into Art', Lucian Freud, exh.cat., Tate London, 2002, p.23).
At the end of the war, Freud and John Craxton were desperate to leave England. Recalling Freud's pursuit of adventure when he signed up on the SS Baltrover in 1941 as part of an Atlantic convoy, they tried to hide aboard a Breton fishing boat but were quickly discovered and went instead to the Scilly Isles, off the far tip of Cornwall. The vivid West Country light, evident in the intense blue sea and shimmering sand of Beach Scene with a Boat would have come as a hugely welcome break from the gritty chaos and devastation of bombed London. The saturated colour and seemingly sparkling quality of the sun, sea and sand certainly hint at warmer climes and as William Feaver so aptly put it, of 'almost abroad' (Feaver, ibid, p.23).
In contrast to the densely recorded detail of earlier landscapes such as Loch Ness from Drumnadrochit (1943, see Lawrence Gowing, Lucian Freud, Thames and Hudson, London, 1982, plate 35), Beach Scene with a Boat is altogether more confident, showcasing Freud's superb talent as a master draughtsman. He perfectly captures the very essence of the boat itself presenting its side elevation whilst simultaneously portraying the interior as a bird's eye view from above. The new shoots of the curving organic leaf forms silhouetted against the dazzling blue sea are reminiscent of Freud's earlier studies of thorny thistles but here, framed in a sunnier composition, they are perhaps reflective of the wider sense of hope and relief felt throughout Britain after the Second World War.
We are grateful to William Feaver for his kind assistance with the cataloguing of this work. Beach Scene with a Boat has been requested for loan for the forthcoming exhibition Lucian Freud: Drawings to be curated by William Feaver at Blain/Southern, London from 13th February to 5th April 2012 and at Acquavella Galleries, New York from 30th April to 9th June 2012.
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