Frank Auerbach

Small Head of E.O.W.


Not on display

Frank Auerbach born 1931
Oil paint on board
Support: 305 × 216 mm
frame: 393 × 294 × 53 mm
Purchased 1959

Display caption

'E.O.W.' - Estella (Stella) West - was a principal model for Auerbach's nudes and female heads until 1973. She began posing regularly for Auerbach in the early 1950s and by 1959 was the subject of over thirty paintings and drawings. This painting is one of three versions which Auerbach worked on between May 1957 and April 1958. The paint's thickness is the result of hundreds of sittings governed by Auerbach's principle that 'Nothing can be left out ... you have to bury the irrelevent in painting somehow'. The way the image seems buried in a dense accretion of paint thus records Auerbach's quest to find a visual equivalent for his 'raw experience' of the sitter.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

T00312 SMALL HEAD OF E.O.W. 1957–8
Not inscribed.
Oil on board, 12×8 1/2 (30·5×21·5).
Purchased from the Beaux Arts Gallery (Knapping Fund) 1959.
Exh: Critic's Choice, Arthur Tooth & Sons, July 1958 (26); Beaux Arts Gallery, October–November 1958 (1).

The artist wrote (2 December 1959): ‘This small head was painted in connection with two larger versions of the same subject which I worked on from May 1957 to April 1958; one of the other versions is in the collection of Michael Roemer, U.S.A., the other in the collection of Lady Hinchingbrooke, London. 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.’

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I

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