On February 13 Sotheby’s London will present for sale a remarkable series of unpublished letters, written by a 21-year-old Lucian Freud to his first girlfriend and fellow art-student Felicity Hellaby. Written in an uneven hand, peppered with illustrations, and full of wry humour and charming anecdotal detail, the letters provide a fascinating insight into the artist’s early preoccupations – repeatedly touching on themes that were to inform his later work. They also give a keen sense of the determination and focus that were to underpin his approach to art throughout his long career. The letters will be offered alongside three drawings from the same period – all part of Felicity Hellaby’s possession since the 1940s.
Discussing the letters, Oliver Barker, Sotheby’s Senior International Specialist for Contemporary Art said: “These charming letters reveal the energy, determination, and to some extent, the naivety, of Freud as a young man. In them we see not the established master that we have come to know, but a young teenager writing to his sweetheart and a young artist finding his way on the path to greatness. Written in the years while he was studying at the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing, they offer a compelling view of his artistic practice and although often playful and light-hearted, hint at a very real sense of ambition.”
Tom Eddison, of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Department added: “In these early drawings, Freud explores some of the themes that were to continue to influence his work throughout his life, including early indications of his preoccupation with people and animals. Most of these works have been with Felicity Hellaby for over seventy years and as such they represent a rare and exciting opportunity to gain a privileged insight into Freud’s early life and art.”
The letters and drawings will be offered in Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Sale on 13 February 2014.