Lot 19
  • 19

Lucian Freud

900,000 - 1,200,000 USD
1,155,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Lucian Freud
  • Portrait of a Woman
  • charcoal and pastel on paper mounted on canvas
  • 24  1/8  x 18  7/8  inches


The Artist
James Kirkman Limited, London
Acquired by the present owner from the above in April 1991


Sebastian Smee and Richard Calvocoressi, Lucian Freud On Paper, New York, 2009, p. 154, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

Lucian Freud’s works on paper are fundamental to his oeuvre. Before he gained a reputation as a painter, Freud was known primarily as a draftsman, and his career was punctuated by vigorous and prolific periods of drawing. Alongside his portraits of fellow artists such as John Craxton, Francis Bacon and Frank Auerbach, and many other subjects besides, Freud routinely portrayed his friends from the almost mythological “bohemian aristocracy” of London. Among the members of this seductive set was the subject of the present work, Clarissa Eden (née Spencer-Churchill). Alongside Deborah Devonshire (née Mitford), Clarissa Eden is unique in that she maintained a steadfast friendship with the famously difficult artist from the late 1940s until his death in 2011. Quite aside from that fact, she fits the model of the artistic grandee to perfection. Prior to her marriage to Anthony Eden, the British prime minister between 1955 and 1957, Clarissa, Dowager Countess of Avon and Winston Churchill’s niece, mixed with an entirely different crowd from that which would preoccupy her during her political years. Orson Welles, Greta Garbo, Evelyn Waugh, Cecil Beaton and Ian Fleming were counted among her friends, as were a host of other creative luminaries. As one reviewer of her 2007 memoir observed, “few lives can have touched so many social worlds, or graced them so elegantly.” (Ed Smith, The Times, 15 October 2007, online)

Richly executed in charcoal and pastel and subsequently mounted on canvas, Portrait of a Woman is a supremely rare work that depicts this extraordinary figure in her later years, long after the death of her husband. It is a remarkably complete drawing, and harkens back not only to Freud’s extensive practice prior to his turn towards painting, but such masterpieces as Girl with Leaves (Museum of Modern Art, New York) from 1948. It typifies Freud’s representation of flesh in the latter part of his career, whilst highlighting his lifelong preoccupation with the drawn line. A testament to the friendship enjoyed by two titans of London life in the Twentieth Century, the present work is one of the greatest of Freud’s late works on paper, and should be considered alongside works such as Lord Goodman from 1986-7, whose subject was Freud’s solicitor and incidentally a close confidant of Clarissa Eden, as some of Freud’s most emotionally charged late works on paper. The daring juxtaposition of color, along with the virtuosic treatment of line and texture, notably in the hair and around the eyes, mark this as a truly exceptional work, perhaps closer in resemblance to a veritable oil painting than any other work on paper by the artist.