William Feaver

This is a very fine example of Frank Auerbach’s signature thick black lines and the furious mark-making he employs in his drawing and printmaking, to give his work an energetic quality. He holds a deep reverence for the ‘magic’ of printmaking, particularly etching and dry point, to reveal the essential qualities he seeks to express through his very personal vision and experience, by means of repetition and limitation of the people he knows well. This is a numbered edition from a limited edition of 40, signed and dated, is in excellent condition and is framed.


Additional information

Original / Edition

Edition of 40


Etching and engraving with touches of black felt-tip pen, on Somerset wove paper


63 x 50 cm




William Feaver is a writer and critic, a friend and long time sitter for Frank Auerbach.  This is an extract from an interview he gave in The Guardian, Sitting for Frank Auerbach: ‘It’s rather like being at the dentist’ by Laura Barnett.

It is very ritualised. One goes to his studio, at a fixed time, for a fixed period: I do Mondays, six till eight. There’s a chair we all sit in – a Windsor, not comfortable, no cushion. Two hours is just about enough before the bum goes to sleep entirely. I’m given a cup of tea when I arrive – green tea at the moment, though sometimes he goes out and buys milk specially. We chat, and then there comes a point when we stop and Frank concentrates entirely on the painting. I can tell when this moment is coming, just from the sound of his breathing.

I started sitting in 2003, while I was writing a book about him. I’d known him on and off for years. Back in the 70s, I was the first person to write about Frank and Lucian Freud in terms of admiration. The book took two years. I carried on sitting, and now my Monday session is firm, unalterable. I thoroughly enjoy it. I don’t sit there and think beautiful thoughts, but instead make lists and go over things in my head. It’s rather like being at the dentist.

Normally, I feel I’m just sitting, a kind of useful lump. But one day recently, Frank laid his painting on the floor, as he does at the end of every session, and I was taken aback to see just how precisely he’d captured the way I was feeling. It had grown dark outside – he works with natural light – and the painting looked fairly miserable. We both knew there were reasons for this.

Frank has an extraordinary, intuitive understanding of what makes a painting worthwhile. He never produces anything glib or splashy. Unless he believes a painting is finished, each week he scrapes off everything he did in the last session and starts again. He wants each painting to be something new and unprecedented. He’s not content with just getting by. He always thinks he’s going to do better. Eventually he does – and he’ll say: “What do you think – shall I keep it?”



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