In the early 1950s Auerbach severely restricted his palette to a range of yellow ochre and other earth colours. By 1960 he had widened this range to include bright blue, green, red and yellow. In The Sitting Room, however, Auerbach reverted to a palette of earth colours, giving the picture a sense of warmth and intimacy. The dealer Helen Lessore (Lessore 1986, pp.56-7) draws attention to Auerbach's use of pigment, which in the 1950s was usually laid exceptionally thickly onto the canvas or board, and is seen to be dense again in The Sitting Room: 'The emphasis on material in modern art probably arises largely from the artist's difficult position today ... Natural, organic things ... have a reality which becomes ever more precious as the world fills up with plastics - and to handle real stuff, even thick paint, gives to some extent the feeling of being a craftsman, of being real oneself'.
Lawrence H. Bradshaw perceptively wrote of The Sitting Room on its showing in 1965: 'The forms are experienced rather than exhaustively explained. There is a depth and atmosphere. The room, as D.H. Lawrence would say, has a soul' (Bradshaw 1965, p.17). During 1964-5 Auerbach painted another record of this room, also entitled The Sitting Room (private collection, Canada).
Lawrence H. Bradshaw, 'Frank Auerbach', Arts Review, vol.17, 20 Feb.-6 March 1965, p.17
Helen Lessore, A Partial Testament: Essays on Some Moderns in the Great Tradition, 1986, pp.69-70
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1988, pp.91-2, reproduced
Robert Hughes, Frank Auerbach, London 1990, p.154, reproduced pl.22 in colour