Sworders to auction bronze linking two titans of 20th-century British art, Oct. 17

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Sir Jacob Epstein’s 1947 gilt-bronze full bust portrait of his son-in-law Lucian Freud is believed to be unique

STANSTED MOUNTFICHET, UK – A bronze bust that unites two titans of British 20th-century art – sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein KBE (American/British, 1880-1959) and the painter Lucian Freud OM CH (German/British, 1922-2011) – will be auctioned at Sworders auction house on October 17.

Sir Jacob Epstein KBE (American/British, 1880-1959), bronze busts of his daughter Kathleen ‘Kitty’ Garman and son-in-law Lucian Freud.
Sir Jacob Epstein KBE (American/British, 1880-1959), bronze busts of his daughter Kathleen ‘Kitty’ Garman and son-in-law Lucian Freud.

Epstein’s 27-inch/68cm-high portrait of Freud – the Berlin-born painter and draftsman who went on to become one of England’s foremost 20th-century portraitists – is a top highlight of Sworders’ Modern British and Contemporary Art Auction. Its pre-sale estimate is £50,000-£70,000 ($60,940-$85,330).

Epstein’s full bust portrait of Freud was created in 1947, the same year the young artist married Epstein’s daughter, Kathleen “Kitty” Garman. A plaster version of the bust of Freud is held in the collection of the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio, but the auction example is thought to be a unique iteration cast in gilded bronze. It has been published in several exhibition catalogs and books.

Sworders’ consignor, who purchased the bronze at Christie’s December 13, 2012 Modern British and Irish Art Auction, subsequently reunited it with an earlier Epstein bronze of Kitty from the same period. 

The latter work, which measures 18.5in/47cm high (inclusive of its composite stone base), was conceived in 1944. It was acquired at Christie’s South Kensington’s December 9, 2015 Modern British & Irish Art Auction. According to its provenance, the bronze of Kitty was shown at Leicester Galleries, London, in a May/June 1994 exhibition titled “Girl with the Gardenias and Other Recent Sculpture by Jacob Epstein.” Sworders estimates the work will fetch in the region of £6,000-£7,000 ($7,310-$8,530). 

The October 17 auction represents a rare opportunity to purchase Epstein bronzes of both Lucian Freud and Kitty Garman. They are entered in the sale as consecutive lots, #127 and #128.

Both pieces come to auction as part of the contents of Colne Priory in Essex. The £7 million (US $8.5 million) Georgian red-brick country house is built on the grounds of a medieval priory. Its 24 acres of immaculate gardens were recently judged Earls Colne’s best address by Country Life magazine. 

Sworders is located in Stansted Mountfichet, Essex, 35 miles north of London. Visit the online catalog and sign up to bid live online through SwordersLive. For questions, email [email protected] or call +44 01279 817778 

Approximate rate of exchange: £1 = US$1.22

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