A newly discovered work by one of the most influential artists of the 20th century is expected to sell for £40,000 to £60,000 at auction next month.
Lucian Freud’s Sketch of Goldie, a charcoal study on canvas for a composition he did not finish, goes under the hammer at Chiswick Auctions on 3 December.
Freud, who had a lifelong interest in horses, made the drawing in about 2003, at Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre in London.
He visited the yard frequently over the next three years, completing some of his best horse portraits in oils – but initially, the stables’ owner Sister Mary-Joy Langdon was unaware of her guest’s identity.
“She was deeply impressed by the painter’s quiet respect and innate understanding of the horses when he visited,” a spokesman for the auction house said.
“She offered him a loose box in which to set up his easel and innocently gave him a book on how to paint horses!”
The pair became friends, and Freud rode as well as painted at the stables. The subject of this sketch was, in Mary Joy’s words, “a stunning chestnut with flaxen mane and tail”, but so stubborn, she was surprised Freud had chosen to paint her.
But after a week’s work, the artist admitted defeat, leaving the work incomplete, and with Mary-Joy, who has kept it since.
Krassi Kuneva of Chiswick Auctions said: “It is rare to see such preliminary workings of a composition by Lucian Freud. He normally destroyed anything he deemed unfinished or unworthy. In this case, instead of demolishing it, he left it in Mary-Joy’s hands, providing us with an exciting, intimate view of how he formed his initial ideas on canvas.”
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The sale will also include Freud’s original palette, paints and brushes, used in the creation of some of his greatest horse-themed works.
All profits from the sale will go to the Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
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