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    Monday, October 23rd, 2017

    The Irish Museum of Modern Art is  extending its inaugural Lucian Freud exhibition until next January 7.  The museum is celebrating a successful first year of IMMA Collection: Freud Project with a two-week period of free entry to coincide with the October mid-term and Halloween Bank holiday. The exhibition features 50 works by Lucian Freud (1922 – 2011) on a five-year loan from a number of private collections.  All have been on display for the past year.

    This is the first instalment of a five-year educational and cultural initiative where IMMA will present a series of different Lucian Freud related exhibitions. A new exhibition  The Ethics of Scrutiny  will open in early February. This, and subsequent exhibitions, will include works and new commissions by other modern and contemporary artists in response to Freud.


    Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

    Lucian Freud Strawberries – oil on copper

    The record for Kandinsky was broken twice in one night, there was a new record for Miro and Lucian Freud’s actual size strawberries made £120,875 per strawberry at a sterling night at Sotheby’s in London last night.  Three works made over £20 million for the first time in any London auction. The Actual Size and Impressionist and Modern evening sales brought in a combined total of £148.9 million. Kandinsky’s Murnau – Landschaft kit grunem Haus made a new record for the artist of £21 million followed just six lots later by Bild kit weissen Linien which sold for £33 million. Femme et oiseau by Joan Miro from his Constellation series sold for £24.6 million. A unique cast by Giacometti made £17.9 million. A small group of strawberries by Lucian Freud made £1.2 million.

    Helena Newman, Global Co-Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department & Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, said: “To have three landmarks in the development of 20th Century art by Kandinsky, Miró and Giacometti come to the market in a single sale tonight was momentous. These key works stand as turning points in the history of art, and tonight auction history was made when the record for Kandinsky broken not just once but twice and an unprecedented three works sold over £20m in a single London Evening Sale. The strength at the very highest level of the market was echoed across price points – and sizes. Collectors were out in force, participating from a record number of locations around the globe, with the level of Asian buyers as numerous as those from the US, underscoring the enduring importance of London as a key driver of the global art market.”

    Joan Miró’s Femme et oiseaux

    Helena Newman finds bids during the sale of Wassily Kandinsky’s Bild mit weissen Linien for £33 million.


    Thursday, April 28th, 2016

    A landmark sale of major paintings and sculpture will mark Christie’s 250th anniversary in London on June 30. The focus will be on great works of British art.  Highlights will include an intimate family portrait by Lucian Freud painted in 1992.  At auction for the first time in 100 years is a pivotal example of British Aestheticism from 1864 by Frederic, Lord Leighton.  And there is an exquisite 1778 portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds which has never been on the market before.

    Building on the success of Christie’s pioneering series of curated evening sales including Looking Forward to the Past and The Artist’s Muse in 2015, the global auction house will celebrate four centuries of British artists with an evening sale on June 30 entitled  Defining British Art.    A loan exhibition with the same title will run from June 17 to July 15.  Highlights will be on view at Christie’s New York from May 6-12 and at Christie’s Hong Kong from May 26-30.

    Ever since James Christie first opened his doors for business in 1766, in St James’s London, where the headquarters remain today, Christie’s has championed British art and artists. Both Reynolds and Gainsborough were among the regular visitors to these salerooms.   Orlando Rock, Chairman, Christie’s UK said:  “A celebration of Britain’s artistic achievements, the Defining British Art Loan Exhibition and Evening Sale will break new ground for Christie’s, charting the evolution of British art over the last 400 years. A fitting launch to Christie’s 250th Anniversary celebrations in London and inspired by James Christie’s own innovative spirit, the sale and exhibition will create dynamic juxtapositions and, we hope, inspire artists and collectors of the future. Open to all, I would like to encourage not only those who are already friends of Christie’s but also those we have yet to welcome, to share in these celebrations and become part of our next chapter, looking ahead to the next 250 years and beyond.”

    LUCIAN FREUD (1922–2011) Ib and her husband (estimate c£18 million). Courtesy Christie's Images Ltd., 2018.

    LUCIAN FREUD (1922–2011)
    Ib and her husband (estimate c£18 million). Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd., 2018.

    Frederic, Lord Leighton, P.R.A. (1830-1896) Golden Hours (£3-5 million).  Courtesy Christie's Images Ltd., 2016

    Frederic, Lord Leighton, P.R.A. (1830-1896)
    Golden Hours (£3-5 million). Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd., 2016

    Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A. (1723-1792) Portrait of Lucy Long, Mrs George Hardinge (£2-3 million).  Courtesy Christie's Images Ltd., 2016

    Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A. (1723-1792)
    Portrait of Lucy Long, Mrs George Hardinge (£2-3 million). Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd., 2016


    Tuesday, March 8th, 2016
    Reflection (Self Portrait), 1985 (oil on canvas), Freud, Lucian (1922-2011) / Private Collection / © The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Image

    Reflection (Self Portrait), 1985 (oil on canvas), Freud, Lucian (1922-2011) / Private Collection / © The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Image

    A landmark Lucian Freud project for Ireland was announced today by the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA).   The gallery has secured a long term loan of 50 works by the world renowned artist, regarded as one of the greatest figurative painters of the 20th century.  IMMA director Sarah Glennie said: “From September 2016, the IMMA Collection: Freud Project will be presented in a new, dedicated Freud Centre in the IMMA Garden Galleries for five years. With this extraordinary resource IMMA will create a centre for Freud research with a special programme of exhibitions, education partnerships, symposia and research that will maximise this exciting opportunity on offer in Ireland.”

    The museum announced highlights of its 2016 exhibition programme today. It will include solo exhibitions by Patrick Hennessy and the Italian artist Carol Rama. Artists will take over the courtyard in the summer for a project entitled A Fair Land in collaboration with Grizedale Arts.  In the Autumn there will be an exhibition of artist Emily Jacir, whose work explores various histories of migration, resistance and exchange through the telling of very personal stories. In a new invited curators initiative Indian curator Sumesh Sharma and Irish curator Kate Strain will present projects at IMMA that reflect their individual practices and bring new curatorial perspectives into IMMA’s programme.


    Thursday, February 11th, 2016
    The auction room during the sale.

    The auction room during the sale. (See posts on for February 6 and January 17, 2016)

    Pregnant Girl,  Lucian Freud’s portrait of his then 17 year old Irish lover Bernadine Coverly pregnant with their daughter Bella, sold for £16.1 million at Sotheby’s in London last night. Dated 1960-61 it was a record price for an early painting by the artist.  The work had been in the same collection for more than 30 years.  It was the top lot in a sale of contemporary art which brought in £69.5 million. There were auction records for Alberto Burri and Adrian Ghenie.  Burri’s Sacco e Rosso made £9.1 million and Ghenie’s 2014 work, Sunflowers in 1937, soared to £3.1 million.

    Alex Branczik, head of Contemporary Art, London said afterwards:  “Tonight we saw a confident art market, punctuated by some real high-points and a depth of bidding. There was much debate about the market ahead of the sale, but in spite of the broader economy, tonight proved that collectors will always compete for works of outstanding quality and rarity.”


    Saturday, February 6th, 2016

    Here is a video from Sotheby’s on Lucian Freud’s Pregnant Girl – capturing 17 year old Bernadine Coverly pregnant with Bella Freud – which comes up for auction on February 10.

    (See post on for January 17, 2016)


    Sunday, January 17th, 2016
    Lucian Freud - Pregnant Girl.

    Lucian Freud – Pregnant Girl.

    Lucian Freud’s Pregnant Girl will highlight Sotheby’s contemporary art evening auction in London on February 10.  The painting, estimated at £7-10 million,  marks a pivotal moment in the his career and shines a spotlight on a little-known moment in the artist’s life. Barely anything is known about his intense relationship with Bernadine Coverley.  The two met when she was 16 and he was already an established artist, 20 years her senior. Although their time together was relatively brief, it was to prove critical – marking both the beginnings of a life-long bond and, for Freud, a new approach to painting.

    Coverley, whose Irish Catholic parents ran the Black Horse pub in Brixton, was sent to a convent boarding school at the age of four. Feeling trapped and despondent under the strict governance of the convent, she twice tried to run away. By her teens, she craved the liberation and excitement of bohemian Soho – an intoxicating underground world of artists, musicians and writers. It was here, in a Soho pub in 1959, where Coverley first met Freud, who was captivated by her natural beauty and free spirit.

    Much has been written about Freud’s famously numerous partners – when he first met Coverley, he had already been twice married and had fathered a number of children – but little is known about their relationship. Pregnant Girl opens a window onto the most meaningful moment in the lives of both lovers, embodying the singular tenderness he felt for Bernadine, soon to be the mother of his daughters Bella and Esther. “It must have been a very happy time in her life, being pregnant with the man she loved and him wanting her to be there and paint her”, says their daughter Bella, “I think he was undoubtedly the love of her life.”

    After separating from Freud, Coverley left England (and its conservative views on unmarried mothers) with her two small daughters to start a new life in Morocco. The story of their bohemian lifestyle in Marrakesh wasimmortalised in Esther’s novel “Hideous Kinky”, and later turned into a hit film with Coverley played by Kate Winslet. Freud and Coverley died within just four days of each other in July 2011.


    Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

    The Brigadier, Lucian Freud’s portrait of Andrew Parker-Bowles in army dress uniform, sold for $34,885,000 at Christie’s in New York last night. The Post War and contemporary art evening sale brought in $331,809,000.  Parker-Bowles is dressed in his ceremonial uniform as a former Commanding Officer of the Household Cavalry.  This is a rare portrait by Freud of a clothed sitter which has been widely acclaimed as an intensely personal portrait of a deeply private man.  Artist and sitter met through their shared love of horses.

    A Spider by Louise Bourgeois sold for $28,165,000.  These mammoth bronze sculptures have gained public and critical appreciation from Tate Modern in London to the Guggenheim in Bilbao and The National Gallery of Art in Washington. Concetto Spaziale, La Fine di Dio by Lucio Fontana made $29,173,000, an untitled Cy Twombly  work sold for $17,525,000, Four Marilyns by Andy Warhol made $36,005,000 and Little Electric Chair by Warhol made $11,589,000.

    Lucian Freud - The Brigadier

    Lucian Freud – The Brigadier

    Louise Bourgeois - Spider

    Louise Bourgeois – Spider


    Wednesday, October 14th, 2015
    Lucian Freud  - Girl and Self Portrait

    Lucian Freud – Girl and Self Portrait

    AN outstanding rediscovered drawing by Lucian Freud comes up at Sotheby’s Modern & Post-War British Art evening sale on November 17.  Girl and Self Portrait is the only self-portrait drawing by Freud known to feature his muse Kitty Garman, who was to become his first wife and whom he had painted devotedly from early 1947.

    It has remained in the possession of Sonia Brownell (1918-1980), second wife of George Orwell, since it was gifted to her by Lucian Freud in c1947.  It is estimated at £600,000-800,000.


    Monday, June 8th, 2015
    A letter from 1940 featuring a presumed self-portrait.

    A letter from 1940 featuring a presumed self-portrait.

    Never before seen letters from a teenage Lucian Freud to his friend the poet Stephen Spender come up at Sotheby’s contemporary art day auction in London on July 2. Ten unpublished letters written by the artist to the famous poet and critic Stephen Spender (1909–1995) have emerged from the Spender family collection after 70 years.

    Populated by drawings and watercolour paintings, one letter shows a man pulling a miniature horse on a lead, while in another, a figure balances on the head of a flying bird and a small man rides a horse atop an ear.

    Dating from 1939-42 while Freud was studying under the tutelage of  Cedric Morris at the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in Essex they are estimated at £28,000-42,000.