Bonhams announced this morning that it would be selling a Frank Auerbach painting from the early 1960s in its February 11th sale in London. E.O.W. on her Blue Eiderdown V is estimated at between £1-1.5m hopes to capitalize on the interest in the painter shown since his recent Tate retrospective.
The work, which dates from 1963, has remained in the same private hands for 50 years and is in pristine condition.
Bonhams’ specialist on the works of Frank Auerbach, Matthew Bradbury, said: “E.O.W. on her Blue Eiderdown V is a remarkable testament to the artist’s intense and almost obsessive observation of his model. It was during the years 1962-63 that Auerbach begun using colour more freely and the paintings, with their wonderfully thick impasto, appear three-dimensional. E.O.W. on her Blue Eiderdown V is the largest and undoubtedly most impressive of the first five oil works in this series. It is very rare to find an Auerbach figurative oil of this size presented for sale and one so crucial to our understanding of his development. It’s incredibly exciting to see it re-emerge after so many years.”
The relationship between Auerbach and his model, Estella West was deep-rooted and intimate. It started in 1948 when Auerbach, still a teenager, met West at the Worker’s Theatre Movement where they both appeared in Peter Ustinov’s play House of Regrets. Stella was in her early thirties and a widowed mother of three. Auerbach moved into her basement as a lodger and the two soon became lovers.
During this early part of Auerbach’s career, Stella – always referred to as E.O.W. in the title of works – was the artist’s most inspirational model. By the time E.O.W. on her Blue Eiderdown V was painted, Auerbach had already recorded her in oil at least 51 times, a remarkable statistic for an artist who is famous for his slow working pace.
Auerbach is currently the subject of a retrospective at Tate Britain (9 October 2015 – 13 March 2016) which features a number of E.O.W. paintings, including E.O.W. Nude on Bed from 1959 which was sold at Bonhams in November 2011 for £780,000.