Lot 12
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LUCIAN FREUD | Girl Holding Her Foot (Figura 34; Hartley 25)

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  • Lucian Freud
  •  Girl Holding Her Foot (Figura 34; Hartley 25)
  • Asking Price: $65,000initialled in pencil, numbered 'AP XII/XV’ (one of 15 artist's proofs aside from the edition of 50)
  • etching on paper, 1985, printing with plate tone, on Somerset wove paper
  • plate: 27 1/8  by 21 1/4  in.;  69 by 54 cm.sheet: 33 7/8  by 27 1/4  in.;  86.1 by 69.1 cm.

Catalogue Note

As a resourceful young artist visiting 1940s Paris, Lucian Freud transformed his hotel sink into an acid bath, attempting his first-ever etching. Perhaps daunted by this trial effort, he only experimented with printmaking six times over the next three years.  It was not until 1982, at which point he was Modern Britain’s most accomplished neo-figurative painter, that Freud revisited the intaglio method. When asked to contribute several illustrations to Lawrence Gowing’s limited edition monograph Lucian Freud, the artist felt inspired to create fourteen whimsical etchings of friends and family.  

The project seems to have provoked a relentless curiosity, as Freud proceeded to etch a range of raw, tonal portraits that rival his textural canvases in expressiveness.  Pushing the boundaries of the medium with newfound confidence, Freud utilized massive copper etching plates, upon which he expertly incised and delicately wiped familiar subjects. Discovering a love for printmaking later in life, he was able to reimagine the human and animal figures he first dissected and interpreted with a paintbrush.


Girl holding her foot is one of several large-scale ‘naked portraits’ inspired by the artist’s own paintings. The anonymous sitter, featured in an oil painting completed the same year, was initially depicted propped on a plush sofa in his Notting Hill studio. Suspended in undefined space in this almost surreal print, the woman’s weight and being become the sole focus. The fleshy contours of her body brazenly confront the viewer, inviting questions about the artist-model relationship and challenging conventional standards of beauty and propriety.