Lucian Freud's 'Pregnant Girl' leads Sotheby's London sale

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2016-01-18 11:10:27

An important portrait by Lucian Freud will be amongst the standout lots of a Sotheby's Contemporary Art sale in London.

'Pregnant Girl', painted in 1961, depicts Freud's lover Bernadine Coverley, who met the artist in 1959 when she was just 16. Although Freud was 20 years her senior, twice married, and had already fathered a number of children, the couple produced two daughters – fashion designer Bella Freud and author Esther Freud.

Coverly's relationship with Freud was relatively short-lived, and she later took her daughters to live in Morocco, as documented in Esther's childhood memoir Hideous Kinky. Little is known about their time together, but it was during this period Freud had a major artistic breakthrough.

'Pregnant Girl' has been described as "a breathtaking image of beauty, desire, femininity and fertility", and marks a major turning point in Freud's work, as he shifted from his realist style of the 1950s to a new expressive approach.

The landmark nature of the painting has seen it included in major exhibitions throughout Freud's career, most notably his first major retrospective in 1974 at the Hayward Gallery in London, along with recent shows at Tate, London in 2003 and the National Portrait Gallery, London  in 2012.

Regarded as a defining work in Freud’s oeuvre, the painting is expected to sell for £7-£10 million ($9.9-$14.2 million).

“This astonishingly beautiful painting embodies the profound bond between Lucian and the mother of his two daughters. There is arguably no other portrait by Freud that is more gripping, more tender, and more laden with such emotional depth,” said Oliver Barker, Sotheby’s Senior International Specialist in Contemporary Art.

The Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction takes place in London on February 10.

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