Lucian Freud

Blond Girl


Not on display

Lucian Freud 1922–2011
Etching on paper
Image: 695 × 545 mm
Purchased 1987

Catalogue entry

P77186 Blond Girl 1985

Etching 695 × 545 (27 3/8 × 21 1/2) on Somerset Satin paper 883 × 715 (34 3/4 × 28 1/8); plate-mark 695 × 545 (27 3/8 × 21 1/2); printed by Terry Wilson at Palmtree Editions and published by James Kirkman Ltd, London and Brooke Alexander Inc., New York in an edition of 50 plus 15 artist's proofs
Inscribed ‘L.F.’ below image b.r. and ‘15/50’ below image b.l.
Purchased from James Kirkman Ltd (Grant-in-Aid) 1987
Exh: Lucian Freud, British Council, Tate Gallery Liverpool, Feb.–March 1992 (no. cat.)
Lit: Roger Bevan, ‘Freud's Latest Etchings’, Print Quarterly, vol.3, Dec. 1986, pp.334–43; Robert Flynn Johnson, ‘The Later Works 1961–1987’ in Lucian Freud: Works on Paper, exh. cat., South Bank Centre 1988, p.20–1; Jane Norrie, ‘Lucian Freud: Works on Paper’, Arts Review, vol.40, 3 June 1988, p.391; Craig Hartley, ‘Freud as an Etcher’ in Lucian Freud: The Complete Etchings 1946–1991, exh. cat., Thomas Gibson Fine Art Ltd 1991, [p.7]; Craig Hartley, Lucian Freud: Acqueforti, exh. cat., Galleria Arialdo Ceribelli, Bergamo 1994, p.17, repr. p.75

‘Blond Girl’ and ‘Man Posing’ [P77182] belong to a group of six etchings which Freud made in 1984–5. The other prints which Freud made at this time are: ‘Ib’, ‘Thistle’, ‘Girl Holding Her Foot’ and ‘Bruce Bernard’. With the exception of ‘Ib’, which was made in 1984, all these prints are dated 1985.

This phase of printmaking activity followed a series made three years earlier, which marked Freud's return to making prints after a gap of thirty-four years. In 1982 it had been suggested to Freud that he make a number of etchings to accompany a limited edition of Lawrence Gowing's monograph, Lucian Freud, published in the same year. As a result of this suggestion, Freud executed fourteen etchings. All these prints are portraits, mainly studies of heads seen in close-up. Freud's concern with this motif was continued in this second of phase of printmaking in 1984–5 (‘Ib’ and ‘Head of Bruce Bernard’ are both portraits). However, he also extended his range of subject matter to include botany (in ‘Thistle’) and, as ‘Blond Girl’ and ‘Man Posing’ demonstrate, to full-length studies of the naked human body. In this respect P77182 and P77183 both exemplify the principal subject of Freud's painting and are related to specific paintings. ‘Blond Girl’ relates to ‘Blond Girl, Night Portrait’, 1980–5 (repr. Bevan 1986, p.339), while ‘Man Posing’ is associated with ‘Painter and Model’, 1986–7 (repr. Lucian Freud Paintings, exh. cat., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1987, pl.99 in col.). However, these prints are in no sense reproductions of the unique works. The prints were drawn from life at separate sittings from the related paintings and in both cases Freud commenced the paintings before the prints. Also, as comparison of the prints with the paintings reveals, there are differences in the treatment of the motif. In the case of ‘Blond Girl’, the print isolates the figure, omitting the settee which appears in the painting. In ‘Man Posing’, the spreadeagled male figure is the central subject of the print, whereas in the painting the same male figure is depicted in a similar pose but as part of a composition which also includes a standing female figure. Freud does not consider the identity of the models in either of these prints to be relevant to an appreciation of these works. Although all his images of people are taken from life, he draws a distinction between his studies using anonymous models and portraits of individuals whose identities are known or are revealed.

As with his paintings, Freud did not work from preparatory sketches when making these prints. Instead, they were executed direct on the plate, working in front of the model. Having first established the basic image on the etching plate in white chalk, Freud then developed the motif using an etching needle only. As with all his etchings, Freud obtained effects of tone and texture through the use of line and cross-hatching alone. At the time they were completed, ‘Blond Girl’ and ‘Man Posing’ were most the ambitious etchings the artist had made. They were larger than any of his earlier prints, and ‘Man Posing’, in particular, was more heavily worked than his previous essays in etching, the dense cross-hatching and all-over treatment of detail establishing a precedent in Freud's printmaking oeuvre.

Published in:
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996


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