Frank Auerbach stars in Bonhams' £2.8m British art sale

An important painting by the British painter Frank Auerbach of his long-term lover, Estella Olive West, entitled Head of E.O.W. III, 1961, sold yesterday (30 June) for a remarkable £860,000.

The work featured in Bonhams' 20th Century British Art sale, which brought an impressive £2.8 million in total sales.

The painting, which has never appeared at auction before, had been expected to realise £400,000 - 600,000.

Estella, a widowed amateur actress, was Auerbach's lover for 23 years, and one of his most regular models. She is referred to as E.O.W. in the titles of his works.

It was with Estella that he started the process of working and reworking paintings, which sometimes took hundreds of sittings to complete.


Frank Auerbach's painting of his lover, Estella, titled Head of E.O.W. III, 1961

Estella once said of being a sitter: "It was quite an ordeal because he would spend hours on something and the next time he would scrap the whole lot down. That used to upset me terribly. I wondered what I was doing it all for."

Auerbach was born in Berlin in 1931 and emigrated to England in 1939. He is best-known for his paintings depicting female models, including Estella, his wife Julia, and a professional model Juliet Yardley Mills, as well as his scenes of London, especially Camden Town. 

A rare charcoal and chalk on paper by Auerbach also featured in the sale. Entitled Portrait of Christopher Dark, 1977, it sold for £53,000.

Top prices were also paid for Ivon Hitchens' Algerian Woman, which fetched £150,000 having been estimated at £50,000 - 70,000 and Helen Bradley's The Rush Cart came to Lees Brook, which sold for £102,000.

 

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