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Born 1931

E.O.W. Looking into the Fire II
Oil on board
45.7 x 40.6 cm
Accepted in lieu of inheritance tax by HM Government, 2015 © Frank Auerbach, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art. Photography Jerry Hardman-Jones


E.O.W are the initials of Estella (Stella) West, the principal model for Auerbach’s nudes and female heads. The dense layers of oil paint give the work a sculptural quality. This is the result of hundreds of sittings during which Auerbach strove to find a visual equivalent for the ‘raw experience’ of his friend. He asserted: ‘Nothing can be left out… but you have to bury the irrelevant in painting somehow.’

Following Lucian Freud’s death in 2011, his major collection of Auerbach works, including this one, was acquired for the nation and distributed to public collections across the UK through Arts Council England.