Frank Auerbach

Head of E.O.W.


Not on display

Frank Auerbach born 1931
Charcoal, paper and watercolour on paper
Support: 787 × 581 mm
frame: 900 × 684 × 35 mm
Purchased 1976

Display caption

'E.O.W.' - Estella (Stella) West - began posing regularly for Auerbach in the early 1950s, and continued to do so until 1973. By then he had completed about 80 drawings and paintings of her. This drawing was made entirely from life and took almost 70 sittings. In line with his usual practice, Auerbach constantly drew, erased and reworked the image. The final image is therefore built upon numerous previous attempts. In this way the portrait is saturated with the artist's accumulated experience of the model. As a result of this long process the paper became torn and abraded and necessitated the patch visible in the drawing.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

T02100 HEAD OF E.O.W. 1960

Inscribed ‘Auerbach 1959–60,’ t.l. and ‘1959–60’ t.r.
Chalk, wash and collage on paper, 31 × 22 7/8 (78.7 × 58.1)
Purchased from James H. Kirkman (Knapping Fund) 1976
Prov: Beaux-Arts Gallery; Miss Margaret Leighton CBE; Sotheby's, 16 June 1976 lot 161 bought James Kirkman
Exh: Beaux-Arts Gallery, 1960?; The Human Clay, Hayward Gallery, August 1976 (ex.catalogue)

In a letter to the Tate Gallery of 2nd December 1959 the artist stated ‘E.O.W. are the initials of a lady who is a personal friend of mine and of whom in the last ten years I have been able to complete over 30 paintings and drawings’. The artist continued to use ‘E.O.W.’ as a model until 1973. In response to a letter from the compiler of 12th June 1978 he wrote ‘There are no paintings or drawings of E.O.W. after 1973. I suppose there have been about 80 paintings and drawings of E.O.W. altogether.... ’ The artist also stated that the drawing was made entirely from the model and that, although he could not remember accurately, he thought it took between 25 and 70 sittings. It is this prolonged working process which resulted in the tears and abrasions and the patch visible in the drawing. It also became necessary during the working of the drawing to stick on a second sheet of paper.

Soon after delivering T02100 to the Beaux-Arts Gallery in 1960 the artist took it back and reworked it.

The drawing is an independent work not connected with any oil painting.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1976-8: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1979

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