LUCIAN FREUD (1922-2011)
LUCIAN FREUD (1922-2011)
LUCIAN FREUD (1922-2011)
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PROPERTY OF A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTOR
LUCIAN FREUD (1922-2011)

Raid on a Village

细节
LUCIAN FREUD (1922-2011)
Raid on a Village
oil, ink and graphite on board
16 x 12in. (40.6 x 30.5cm.)
Executed circa 1940
来源
Lucy Harwood, London (acquired directly from the artist in 1942).
Her sale, Sotheby’s London, 30 March 1983, lot 231.
Private Collection, UK.
Acquired from the above by the present owner circa 2000.
出版
M. Gayford, Lucian Freud, London 2018, pp. 44 and 322 (illustrated in colour, p. 54; titled ‘Air Battle Over a Village’ and dated ‘circa 1939’).
M. Gayford, Lucian Freud, London 2022, pp. 44 and 607 (illustrated in colour, p. 54; titled ‘Air Battle Over a Village’ and dated ‘circa 1939’).
D. Dawson and M. Gayford, Love Lucian. The Letters of Lucian Freud 1939-1954, London 2022 (illustrated in colour, p. 60; titled ‘Air Battle Over a Village’ and dated '1939').
展览
London, The Leicester Galleries, New Year Exhibition. Modern French Pictures and Contemporary English Art, 1942, p. 8, no. 86.
Benton End, The Ixion Society, details untraced (titled 'Town & Skyscape' and dated '1941').

荣誉呈献

Claudia Schürch
Claudia Schürch Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

拍品专文

The following catalogue essay has been prepared with reference to the work’s entry in the upcoming Lucian Freud catalogue raisonné written by Toby Treves. Christie’s follows his dating of the work to circa 1940. We are grateful to Toby Treves and Catherine Lampert for their generous assistance in the cataloguing of this lot.
*
Raid on a Village (circa 1940) is a rare early work by Lucian Freud that captures the young artist’s experience of the Second World War. It likely dates from 1940, when Freud was aged seventeen. Bombs fell that summer on Hadleigh, the Suffolk town where he was staying, and in September destroyed the church in the nearby village of Little Horkesley: by that time, the Blitz on London had begun. Freud’s picture shows an RAF plane firing on a Luftwaffe bomber above a picturesque village. The bomber, the church and other buildings are ablaze. A yellow bomb hangs in the sky next to the crescent moon. Working in oil, ink and pencil on board, Freud conjures a rich range of tone and texture. Turbulent brushstrokes scour the sky, etched with fine lines of stars and gunfire. Soft blooms of colour tint the variegated buildings below, and convey the flames issuing from the rooftops. Tiles and brickwork are outlined in delicate ink: so too are tiny figures, including a horse rider, a cyclist, and worried faces peering out of windows. In vertiginous perspective, the village gives way to a horizon of rolling fields dotted with minuscule sheep and hedgerows. Originally purchased in 1942 by the artist Lucy Harwood, a fellow student of Freud’s at the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing, the work was later included in an exhibition held there by the Ixion Society, the gallery of the school’s founder Cedric Morris.

Freud was born in Berlin in 1922, and emigrated to London with his family in 1933. After stints at several different schools, he heard in early 1939 about the East Anglian School, which had recently opened in Dedham. Run by the painter-horticulturalist Morris and his partner Arthur Lett-Haines, the school aimed ‘to foster individual talent unbeholden to imperatives of style’ (S. Smee, Lucian Freud: Drawings 1940, exh. cat. Matthew Marks Gallery, New York 2003, p. 5). Freud enrolled in the summer of that year, and found its unorthodox curriculum to his liking. After spending the winter of 1939-1940 in a remote Welsh village with his friend David Kentish—later joined by the poet Stephen Spender—he returned to Dedham for the start of the spring term, soon after which the school established its new location at Benton End in Hadleigh a few miles away. In a letter to his mother that summer, he wrote of ‘terrible explosions that shook the whole street’ (L. Freud, quoted in D. Dawson and M. Gayford, eds., Love Lucian: The Letters of Lucian Freud 1939-1954, London 2022, p. 73).

Spender had given Freud a blank publisher’s dummy to sketch in during their stay in Wales, with a verse encouraging him to fill it ‘with pictures of that dreadful It / by which we will finally be hit’ (S. Spender, quoted in in D. Dawson and M. Gayford, eds., Love Lucian: The Letters of Lucian Freud 1939-1954, London 2022, p. 51). ‘It’ referred to the recently declared war. While they developed the intense, idiosyncratic line of his early graphic style—featuring caricature-like portraits of Spender and Kentish, animals and surreal interior scenes—Freud’s Welsh drawings bear little trace of what then seemed a distant conflict. His first painting to touch directly on the subject was The Refugees (1941), which was in progress when he wrote to his mother from Hadleigh in the summer of 1940. The probably contemporaneous drawing Man and Town (1940-1941), a miniaturist townscape with neat piles of rubble and hundreds of detailed houses, relates closely to the present work. It appears to picture the Blitz, with what is likely Primrose Hill—seen from Freud’s parents’ new home at 2 Maresfield Gardens in Hampstead—visible in the background. The painting Landscape with Birds, painted there while Freud was visiting his parents in July 1940, also bears comparison with Raid on a Village. It shows a blackened figure leaping into a strangely rippling sky full of frazzled-looking birds, while a boy launches a paper boat across a lake below.

Freud was uncompromising, charismatic and resolutely individual from a young age. He did not like to acknowledge the influence of other artists, and his youthful work’s linear eccentricity shows an artist determined to make his own mark in the world. Nonetheless, hints of inspiration can be felt in Raid on a Village. Its intricate, tessellated construction recalls the approach of Cedric Morris, whom he observed making paintings from top to bottom as if unfurling a map. Freud also admitted some regard for Paul Klee, whose jewel-like geometric works find an echo in this lyrical composition. Further stylistic roots might be found in the rich Germanic tradition of myth, fairy tale and graphic art that Freud was immersed in as a young boy. From popular children’s books such as Wilhelm Busch’s Max und Moritz and Heinrich Hoffmann’s Struwwelpeter to the elaborate engravings of Albrecht Dürer and the more recent Neue Sachlichkeit work of George Grosz—whose drawings Freud admired for their ‘fierce, cartoonish bite’—these sources suggest aspects of Raid on a Village’s meticulous detail, as well as its ominous yet playful atmosphere (L. Freud, quoted in R. Calvocoressi, ‘Introduction’, in Lucian Freud: Early Works, exh. cat. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh 1997, p. 11).

With the publication of a self-portrait drawing in the April 1940 issue of Horizon, an eminent magazine funded by his patron Peter Watson, Freud’s star began to rise. He would go on to develop the near-obsessive focus of his early style through his seamless, Northern Renaissance-esque paintings of the 1950s—for which he would prepare smooth panel supports as in the present work, using plywood samples supplied by his architect father—and, later, the fleshier, impastoed but no less forensic portraiture that characterised his subsequent practice. In Raid on a Village, as war unfolds before the eagle eyes of the teenage artist, his entirely distinctive vision begins to come into focus.

更多来自 二十及二十一世纪艺术:伦敦晚间拍卖

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