Lot 7
  • 7

Lucian Freud, O.M., C.H.

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
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  • Lucian Freud, O.M., C.H.
  • Woman with an Arm Tattoo (Figura 40)
  • signed with initials and numbered A/P 7/12
  • etching, 1996, printing with plate tone, on wove paper, an Artist's proof aside from the edition of 40, published by Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, printed by Marc Balakjian at Studio Prints, London
  • plate: 59.5 by 81.5cm.; 23½ by 32¼in.
  • sheet: 70 by 91.5cm.; 27½ by 36¼in.


Marlborough Graphics Ltd, London, where acquired by the present owner


The full sheet (a deckle edge at each side), in good condition apart from a small pale stain in lower margin at extreme edge of sheet, a thin strip of pale mount-staining at left sheet edge, a minute fox mark in the lower margin, the verso with remains of two previous hinges at lower sheet edge. Housed in an antiqued, gilded and moulded frame, held under glass. Please telephone the department on +44 (0) 207 293 6424 if you have any questions regarding the present work.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

‘Etching’s not drawing exactly, but it’s a sort of drawing’

(Lucian Freud, quoted in Starr Figura, Lucian Freud, The Painter’s Etchings, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2007, p.21)



Rightly recognised as one of the past century’s greatest portrait painters, Lucian Freud was an artist who worked on the canvas, paper and etching plate simultaneously. Adopting the Old Master technique of etching, as opposed to modern alternatives such as lithography or linocut, Freud first experimented with the medium in the 1940s during an extended trip to Paris, producing six small works. However it was not until 1982 that the technique made up a consistent aspect of his oeuvre. Like artists before him, including Augustus John and C.R.W. Nevinson, Freud’s etchings do not aim to reproduce exact or specific paintings, but are executed in close relation to his painted subjects, which are, broadly speaking, made up predominantly of portraits, nudes, animal studies of dogs or horses, or landscape views of his West London garden. As Starr Figura writes: ‘the etchings do not reproduce the paintings; instead, Freud utilizes the print to revisit a subject or motif from a slightly different vantage point or within another context, as well as, of course, through different aesthetic means that are decidedly linear’ (Starr Figura, Lucian Freud, The Painter’s Etchings, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2007, p.14).

As with Picasso, Freud viewed the process of etching as a natural extension of drawing, using fine gentle lines and delicate cross hatching to create a sense of form and depth. Working directly onto prepared copper plates in his studio, incising the black ground of the plate with an etching needle in a process that often took months, Freud then handed the plates over to his trusted printer for proofing. It was a process that captivated the Artist’s imagination; a sort of artistic alchemy in which he was drawn to the ‘element of danger and mystery. You don’t know how it’s going to come out. What’s black is white. What’s left is right. (Lucian Freud, quoted ibid, p.15)

Observing Woman with an Arm Tattoo and Head of Ali  (please see lot 10) one is able to witness Freud at his very best, using two popular subjects, his son Alexander Boyt, known as Ali, and Sue Tilley, the subject of his Benefits Supervisor Resting nude of 1994 (Private Collection). The delicacy of the fine lines magically create soft and ageing skin, and, as with the greatest of his paintings, draws the viewer in to the lives of his subjects.