PRINTER: Marc Balakjian at Studio Prints, London
PUBLISHER: Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
Garden in Winter is Lucian Freud’s first large scale etching of an outdoor scene, and has its origins in the small work Landscape of 1993. Everything about Freud’s approach to this work signalled that this was to be a work of great ambition. He consulted his printer Marc Balakjian, at key points during the drawing of the plate, to make sure that his intentions would transfer properly to the paper upon printing and to seek reassurance that the image of his intentions would not be lost in the process.
Never before had Freud etched a plate completely to the edge, except as a background to another subject. Garden in Winter marks a complexity in Freud’s etchings which had never before been attempted by him, and would only be undertaken once more in his lifetime, in The Painter’s Garden of 2004. The task was so enormous that Freud drew the plate over two winters, refusing to venture into that corner of the garden in the intervening months for fear of disturbing his subject.
The result is a feat of extraordinary discipline and draughtsmanship, a mass of lines and marks conveying beautifully and completely legibly the central form of a buddleia surrounded by undergrowth and fallen leaves. A decision to print the plate with varied tone, except in the centre of the plate where it is wiped cleaner, conveys perfectly the peaceful sense of light filtering through the trees to this calm corner of Freud’s home.