A remarkable letter in which artist Lucian Freud outlines his artistic aims is among the star lots at Bonhams' forthcoming Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs auction.
Offered in London on 19 March, the letter was sent by Freud to student Katie Wilson in 1996. Wilson had first written to the artist as part of her A Level studies, hoping to learn the source of his deep fascination with the human form.
It is now expected to sell for between £2,000 and £3,000 ($3,303-4,955), as the first letter signed by Lucian Freud ever to be consigned to auction. In response to the student's enquiry, Freud explains: "As a human animal I am interested in some of my fellow animals, in their minds and bodies."
It was around this time that Freud was working on his celebrated series of "benefits supervisor" works, depicting Sue Tilley, also known as "Big Sue". In 2008, Christie's New York sold Benefits Supervisor Sleeping for $33.6m - the world record for Freud's work at auction.
Claire Wilkins, a Bonhams valuer handling the letter, commented: "As a succinct statement of Freud's artistic aims, this could hardly be bettered.
"By 1996 Freud had attained international fame as a modern master - a status he never lost - and yet found the time to send a very personal and considered reply to an unknown student."
Still mounted in Katie Wilson's art project book, the letter is sure to attract strong attention, especially as the artist is once again in the spotlight following the world record $142m sale of Francis Bacon's triptych study of Freud at Christie's in November.
The sale highlights the value of collectibles related to the top artists, an option many are now considering as the prices of top artworks increase further. Paul Fraser Collectibles has signed items from masters such as Picasso, Monet, Renoir and even Damien Hirst for sale.