Bella in her Pluto T-shirt

Lucian Freud

Bella in her Pluto T-Shirt is the fourth etching that Freud had made depicting his fashion designer daughter, and it is by some margin the largest. The work was slowly created over several months, and required many sittings. Freud may have demanded much of his sitters, but equally much of those who assisted him, in seeking to attain levels of perfectionism considered extreme by even the most experienced printmakers. Bella in her Pluto T-Shirt of 1995 had the head completely erased twice by the infinitely patient Marc Balakjian before Freud approached contentment. With its heavily etched background, the work is printed with a great deal of surface tone, so without having to resort to the hand-colouring of the past, a required depth is achieved, whilst also providing subtle and pleasing variations between each of the works in the edition.

By the mid-1990s, the relationship between Freud and Balkjian had matured into one of utter mutual confidence. The importance of this relationship cannot be overstated: A year later, Freud asked Balakjian to co-sign the edition of his self-portrait as he felt that the printer’s skills had made such a contribution to the final work that he was worthy of such acknowledgement. In a battle of modesty, however, Balakjian won and refused to accept the honour.

There is a copy of Bella in her Pluto T-Shirt in the permanent collection of the Tate Gallery,

Lucian Freud (1922-2011)
Bella in her Pluto T-shirt
32 ⅛ x 23 ½ in : 81.5 x 59.5 cm (Somerset Satin White paper)
26 ⅞ x 23 7/16 in : 68.2 x 59.5 cm
From the edition of 36, signed and numbered by the artist
Marc Balakjian at Studio Prints, London
Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
Hartley 51; Siegen 21; Yale 38; Figura 53
No longer available

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