Important Australian and International Fine Art
13 September 2016


(1922 – 2011, British)

etching on Somerset White wove paper

69.5 x 54.5 cm

edition: state proof aside from an edition of 50

signed with initials and inscribed S.P. below image
printed by Terry Wilson at Palm Tree Studios, London
published in 1986 by James Kirkman, London and Brooke Alexander, New York

$50,000 – 70,000

James Kirkman, London
Rex Irwin Art Dealer, Sydney (label attached verso)
Private collection, Sydney


Lucian Freud: Works on Paper, South Bank Centre, London, 1988 and touring England, Scotland and USA (another example)
Lucian Freud, Tate Gallery Liverpool (British Council exhibition), 4 February – 22 March 1992, then touring to: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 31 October – 10 January 1992; Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, 1 February – 14 March 1993, cat. 57 (another example)
Lucian Freud 'Etchings 1946 – 2004', Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, 2 April –13 June 2004, then touring to: Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal; The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Waterhall Gallery, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham (another example)
Lucian Freud, The Painter's Etchings, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 16 December 2007 – 10 March 2008, cat. 33 (another example)


Bevan, R., ‘Freud's Latest Etchings’, Print Quarterly, vol. 3, December 1986, pp. 334 – 343
Lucian Freud, The British Council, London and Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1992, cat. 57, p. 76 (illus., another example)
Hartley, C., The Etchings of Lucian Freud: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1946 – 1995, Marlborough Graphics and Ceribelli, London, 1995, cat. 24 (illus., another example)
Bernard, B. and Birdsall, D. (eds.), Lucian Freud, Jonathan Cape, Random House, London, 1996, p. 356, cat. 196 (illus., another example)
Feaver, W., Lucian Freud, Rizzoli, New York, 2007, p. 477, no. 207 (illus., another example)
Figura, S., Lucian Freud, The Painter's Etchings, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2008, pp. 64, 135, 142 (illus. pl. 33, another example)

Catalogue text

Almost cherubic in her youthful plumpness, the dozing sitter for Blond Girl, 1985 is lucky to have been spared the uncompromising scrutiny generally associated with Lucian Freud’s portraits. One of six key etchings executed between 1984 and 1985, Blond Girl was the first large-scale ‘naked portrait’ the artist created in the medium, heralding the arrival of many subsequent masterpieces. Its use as the frontispiece for Craig Hartley’s 1995 catalogue raisonné of Freud’s printed works, attests the work’s significance within the context of the artist’s oeuvre. This particular example is a unique state proof aside from an edition comprising of fifty numbered prints, two of which are held in major public institutions in England. In printmaking, a state proof is a different impression, caused by a deliberate change to the original matrix, in this case the copper plate upon which Freud etched his image. A softer and more atmospheric image, this version of Blond Girl contains more plate-tone than other editions.

Freud, now regarded as a master print-maker as well as painter, considered etching to be an extension of his draughtsmanship, anchored in direct observation. The ambitious scale of the works in this series indicate that the artist was already confident in his handling of the medium and sought to attempt more complex compositions similar those he painted in oil. While it is relatively unusual for an artist to bypass the stage of preparatory sketches and etch directly onto the copper plate from life, as Freud did, this method endowed his works with an immediacy and spontaneity that is less apparent in his painted compositions. The artist was also known for creating his etchings simultaneously to related painted works, using each medium to inform the other and exploring alternative avenues for composition and formal treatment of the subject. This etching is directly related to an oil painting, created at the same time, titled Blond Girl, Night Portrait (private collection).

The anonymous sitter in Blond Girl is suspended in a strange atmosphere, the weight of her arm and slumped head comfortably, yet illogically, supported. By eliminating all superfluous elements of the composition which distract from the view of the portrait, the artist’s formal economy becomes visually disorienting, contradicting the exactitude of detail in its other areas. Freud would go on to reuse this strategy many times, particularly in the striking etched portrait of Sue Tilley, Woman Sleeping, 1995. In this early adoption of a large-scale format Freud’s portrait is unusually simple, with large areas of flesh left blank and modelling apparent primarily on the external contours of the sitter’s body. This results in a heavy outline, removed from the frenetic line that would characterise Freud’s later etched works. A truthful portrait, candid rather than contrived, Blond Girl is a beautiful expression of serenity and gentle melancholy so central to this great artist’s work.