Lucian Freud 'restaurateur portrait' has first-ever auction with $3.1m estimate

Sotheby's is offering a number of rare artworks by Lucian Freud, this month. The auction will star a never-before-exhibited painting by the artist, who died in July 2011.

According to Freud experts, it is a portrait of a man with whom the artist greatly identified. The portrait depicts restaurateur Bernard Walsh, who provided Lucian with many enjoyable Soho lunches in the '50s and '60s.

The work dates to 1955. It will auction with a £1.5m-£2m ($3,148,980) presale estimate, and is one of five Freud works to appear in Sotheby's sale.

Freud's portrait of a restaurateur has been held in the private collection since it was painted, and now emerges fresh to market in the 21st century.


Lucian Freud restaurateur portrait410.jpg
Lucian Freud's portrait of a restaurateur

Walsh owned Wheeler's on Old Compton Street. The establishment was frequented by Freud and fellow artists Francis Bacon and Frank Auerbach. All of them counted Walsh as a friend - not least because he allowed them to run up tabs.

Art collectors and enthusiasts have commented on an aura of 'mutual respect' in the portrait. This respect will undoubtedly be shared by collectors when the artwork sells on February 15.

Rare art pieces Roy Lichtenstein, Gerhard Richter, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Takashi Murakami will also appear in the auction.

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