Lot 8
  • 8

Frank Auerbach

300,000 - 500,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Frank Auerbach
  • Jake Seated
  • oil on board
  • 61.5 by 41cm.; 24¼ by 16¼in.
  • Executed in 2000.


Marlborough Fine Art, London, where acquired by the present owner


London, The Royal Academy of Arts, Frank Auerbach: Paintings and Drawings 1954-2001, 14th September - 12th December 2001, cat. no.44, illustrated p.81 and 145;
Leeds, University of Leeds, The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery, temporary loan, 2013.


William Feaver, Frank Auerbach, Rizzoli, New York, 2009, cat. no.843, illustrated p.335.


Unexamined out of frame.The surface appears sound and stable, with some rich passages of textured impasto. The work appears in excellent overall condition.Ultraviolet light reveals a small area of fluorescence in the extreme top left corner, which appears in keeping with the nature of the artist's techniques and materials. Housed in a thick dark wooden frame, behind glass, and float-mounted against a linen-textured mount. Unexamined out of frame.Please telephone the department on +44 207 293 6424 if you have any questions or queries 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

‘...it’s not as if the painting isn’t about our relationship. It is – it’s about everything … I think people sit for my father because he’s good company. He’s recording lives, their different facets, bit by bit.’

(Jake Auerbach, quoted in Laura Barnett, ‘Sitting for Frank Auerbach’, The Guardian, 30th September 2015)

Jake is the artist's son, born in 1958. The relationship between artist and sitter is unique but when artist and sitter are also father and son, the relationship is undoubtedly imbued with further emotional complexity. Frank and his wife Julia separated when Jake was only five or six and he didn't see his father for many years: 'My father and I had a long break... Resuming our relationship seemed dictated by fate, and the suggestion came from a number of areas, as I remember it, simultaneously. The first meeting was nerve-wracking, then an enormous pleasure. I started sitting for him shortly afterwards, and have sat regularly ever since, for over 40 years - with a couple of short breaks, such as when I lived abroad. I still do it every Tuesday, for two hours...' (Jake Auerbach, 'Resuming my relationship with my father was dictated by fate', The Telegraph, 3rd October 2015).


Like all of Auerbach's paintings, the present work is the result of hours spent in front of the subject observing every feature, detail and tension, both physical and psychological, that subsequently informs each stroke. His portraits reveal his own experience of the people and places closest to him and few are closer than the biological bond between father and son. Auerbach sculpts the paint, layering each impastoed element on top of another only to scrap it back with his palette knife and start again, building up the composition until he has captured the very essence of the subject seated before him. Here, Jake sits upright in the same armchair that has appeared in so many of Auerbach's paintings, a nod to Rembrandt's Portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels (National Gallery, London), the chair providing an architectural framework in which to unleash his most energetic brush strokes and an extraordinarily jewel-like palette. It is significant that the artist chose this painting to be illustrated as one of very few details in the catalogue to his major 2001 retrospective at the Royal Academy, London. 

The relationship between artist and sitter takes on an added dimension as Jake is himself also an artist:
'I tell people that I don't make films, I make people films... portraits rather than profiles... it's really satisfying then to have these films screened at the National Portrait Gallery, it feels right...' (Jake Auerbach, 3rd March 2008, press release for Jake Auerbach Film Season). Artist and sitter reversed roles for Jake's 2015 portrait of his father: Frank. Inspired by the painter's travelling exhibition to Kunstmuseum Bonn in June 2015, Jake went to film the show so that Frank could experience the exhibition. He had portrayed his father previously in Frank Auerbach: To the Studio (2002) which is a celebrated documentary of Auerbach's intensive working process - painting 365 days a year and rarely leaving the corner of north London where he has lived since the Second World War.