PRINTER: Terry Wilson at Palm Tree Studios
Head and Shoulders of 1982 was Freud’s first etched portrait since 1947 of any considerable size, much bigger than its immediate forerunners which were either fragments, or small in scale due to their creation as inserts for Lawrence Gowing’s book. The work is particularly notable, aside from its beauty, as it is the first print for which Freud deliberately reduced the plate size in order to crop the picture at the top of the model’s head, a device he was to use again in later works to great effect. The cropping was suggested by Freud’s friend, the artist Frank Auerbach, who had looked at Freud’s etchings to date and had admired what had until that time been an occasional, even accidental, device in Freud’s construction of the picture plane. Early proofs of this work were taller by almost 5cms. The work is also the last to exhibit a particular manner of shading around the edge of a contour which recalls his technique from almost 40 years earlier and which is never seen again. Head and Shoulders was published in a small edition of only 20 copies.