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Outstanding fresh-to-market Auerbach at Bonhams February Post-War and Contemporary Sale
E.O.W. on her Blue Eiderdown V, by Frank Auerbach; estimate £1,000,000-1,500,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- A work by the leading British artist Frank Auerbach, which has not been seen in public for half a century, is to be sold at Bonhams Post-War and Contemporary Art sale in London on 11 February. E.O.W. on her Blue Eiderdown V is estimated at £1,000,000-1,500,000.

The work, which dates from 1963, has remained in the same private hands for 50 years and is in pristine condition.

Bonhams’ specialist on the works of Frank Auerbach, Matthew Bradbury, said: “E.O.W. on her Blue Eiderdown V is a remarkable testament to the artist’s intense and almost obsessive observation of his model. It was during the years 1962-63 that Auerbach begun using colour more freely and the paintings, with their wonderfully thick impasto, appear three-dimensional. E.O.W. on her Blue Eiderdown V is the largest and undoubtedly most impressive of the first five oil works in this series. It is very rare to find an Auerbach figurative oil of this size presented for sale and one so crucial to our understanding of his development. It’s incredibly exciting to see it re-emerge after so many years.”

The relationship between Auerbach and his model, Estella West was deep-rooted and intimate. It started in 1948 when Auerbach, still a teenager, met West at the Worker’s Theatre Movement where they both appeared in Peter Ustinov’s play House of Regrets. Stella was in her early thirties and a widowed mother of three. Auerbach moved into her basement as a lodger and the two soon became lovers.

During this early part of Auerbach’s career, Stella – always referred to as E.O.W. in the title of works – was the artist’s most inspirational model. By the time E.O.W. on her Blue Eiderdown V was painted, Auerbach had already recorded her in oil at least 51 times, a remarkable statistic for an artist who is famous for his slow working pace.

Auerbach is currently the subject of a retrospective at Tate Britain (9 October 2015 - 13 March 2016) which features a number of E.O.W. paintings, including E.O.W. Nude on Bed from 1959 which was sold at Bonhams in November 2011 for £780,000.

“The opportunity to offer such a fresh, signature example by one of the great figures of British Art is a great privilege,” said Ralph Taylor, Bonhams Senior Director of Post-War and Contemporary Art. “This painting will be offered as part of Bonhams’ most valuable ever sale of Post-War & Contemporary Art in London on February 11th, alongside masterpieces by Andy Warhol, Kazuo Shiraga and El Anatsui. This auction further underlines the huge strides forward made by Bonhams over the past two years.”

Frank Auerbach (b 1931) is one of Britain’s greatest living painters. Born in Berlin, he came to the UK in 1939 to escape the Nazi persecution, which later claimed the lives of his parents. He studied at Central St Martins and the Royal Academy in London and was heavily influenced by the classes he took at Borough Polytechnic under David Bomberg. Auerbach’s work has been exhibited internationally frequently and hangs in public and private collections worldwide.

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