Head of Bruce Bernard

Lucian Freud

Bruce Bernard (1928-2000), journalist, photographer and picture editor, first met Freud in 1943, when Bernard was still a schoolboy at Bryanston. Their friendship developed in the 1960s and later Bernard wrote several articles on the artist and the monograph Lucian Freud in 1996. In his article 'The Fugitive Subject', which appeared in the Independent on Sunday in September 1993, Bernard observed that in Freud's work his models are, it seems, imaginatively penetrated [by Freud] and then coaxed very attentively to refashion themselves from inside. They can then meet themselves with recognition, surprise and interest. In an etching Lucian made of me in 1985 I soon accepted modelling, particularly in the forehead, which is neither visible nor there at all. He gives people features that they might develop if their bodies were shaped more by their feelings (and of course his own). It could be called carnal understanding.

He returned to this matter in his 1996 book (p. 16), in which he commented: Speaking as one who has had his own forehead scanned by Freud's finely tuned sensors - most clearly demonstrated in an etching - I must state that I accept the results of his survey, not with any particular pleasure, but with a sense that something like history has been divined, as in aerial photographs which prove how much of it eludes the naked eye. By then he had been painted twice by Freud: Bruce Bernard (1992; private collection) and Bruce Bernard (Seated) (1996; private collection). Freud was pleased with the bolder way in which he approached the plate of Bernard, the last one to be printed as a full edition by Terry Willson. Although he had employed stopping-out varnish in earlier prints to affect texture and light and adjust small details, in this etching he used it to model part of the figure. Freud considered this to have been a breakthrough and later recalled that 'When I did the head of Bruce Bernard I did the hair by stopping it out, rather than drawing it in, and I thought, Now I'm really etching!' (Gayford 2010, p. 224).

The grey plate tone is warmed by the paper, which is cream. The tone is light in the face, neck and shirt, and darker everywhere else. The trial proof owned by the Fundación Museos Nacionales - Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Caracas has a variant inking, with the area behind the figure black. It was reproduced in the catalogue published for the exhibition 'Lucian Freud: Portraits and Figures' held at Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand between 2013 and 2014.

Impressions of this print are held in the following public collections British Museum, London, (SP); Fundación Museos Nacionales - Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Caracas, (1 TP, 48/50); The Higgins, Bedford, (19/50)

Lucian Freud (1922-2011)
Head of Bruce Bernard
Etching on Velin Arches Crème
20 x 18 ½ in : 51.0 x 47.0 cm
Frame Size
23 ¾ x 21 ½ in : 60.5 x 54.5 cm
An unsigned and unnumbered trial proof aside from the edition of 50
Proofed and printed by Terry Willson at Palm Tree Editions, London
Published by James Kirkman, London, and Brooke Alexander, New York
Nishimura Gallery, Tokyo, 1987
British Council, 1987-88, touring exh., USA, France, UK and Germany(UK only)
South Bank Centre, London, 1988-89, touring exh., UK and USA, no. 88, cat. illus.
Rex Irwin Art Dealer, Sydney, 1988, no. 10, cat. illus.
Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London, 1989, no. 8, cat. illus.
Galerie Berggruen & Cie, Paris, 1990, no number, entitled Tête de Bruce Bernard, cat. illus.
Nishimura Gallery, Tokyo, 1991, no. 20, cat. illus.
Thomas Gibson Fine Art, London, 1991, no. 23, cat. illus.
Mary Ryan Gallery, New York, 1992,
British Council, 1992-93, touring exh., Japan and Australia (Australia only), no. 56, cat. illus.
Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 1993-94, touring exh., UK, USA and Spain (UK only), no. 16, cat. illus.(UK catalogue only)
Galleria Ceribelli, Bergamo, 1994-95, touring exh.
Marlborough Graphics, London, 1995,
Rubenspreis der Stadt Siegen, 1997, no. 6, cat. illus.
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1999-2000, touring exh., USA, no. 15, cat. illus.
Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, 2000-01, no. 25, cat. illus.
Tate Britain, London, 2002-03, touring exh., UK, Spain and USA, in UK no. 104, entitled Bruce Bernard, cat. illus.
Newcastle Region Art Gallery, Australia, 2003, no. 6
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, and Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, in association with Marlborough Graphics, London, 2004-05, touring exh., no. 20, cat. illus.
Museo Correr, Venice, 2005, no. 40, cat. illus.
Newcastle Region Art Gallery, Australia, 2007, touring exh., Australia
James Hyman Gallery, London, 2009, no. 14,
Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand, 2013-14, no number, (trial proof with variant inking), cat. illus.
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, 2015, no. 15, cat. illus.
Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, 2017, no. 15, cat. illus.
Bevan 1986, pp. 334-7, fig. 218, no. 28, dated 1985-86; Allen 1988; Johnson 1988, p. 19; Hartley 1991A, unpaginated, Bernard 1993; Taylor 1993, dated 1986, illus., Hartley 1995, pp. 15-16, 20, no. 26, illus., Bernard 1996, p. 16, pl. 189; Franzke 1997, p. 12; Bernard 1998; Wilcox 1999, pp. 49, 58; Hartley 2001, pp. 203, 209; Hartley 2004, pp. 14-15, no. 20, illus. fig. 8; Feaver 2007A, p. 29, illus. pl. 202; Figura 2007, p. 29, illus. fig. 14; Calvocoressi and Smee 2008, illus. pl. 140; Gayford 2010, p. 224; Hartley 2013, p. 59; Gayford 2018B, p. 12, illus. p. 90; Troves 2022 pp. 86-87 illus.
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