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A major collection of works by Frank Auerbach acquired for the nation

  • Date: 15 May 2014
  • Area: National
Head of Gerda Boehm, 1964. Frank Auerbach

Head of Gerda Boehm, 1964. Frank Auerbach.

The most significant private collection of works by one of Britain’s greatest living artists, Frank Auerbach, has been accepted in lieu of tax by HM Government for the nation and is to be shown in public for the first time, thanks to the Acceptance in Lieu scheme

The collection, which includes 15 works in oil and 29 works on paper, covers Auerbach’s artistic career from the 1950s to the first decade of the 21st century. It was put together by fellow British artist Lucian Freud and reflects the high regard and admiration that they had for another. 

The Acceptance in Lieu scheme allows those liable to death duties to pay the tax by offering works of pre-eminent importance to the Nation. This is the third offer in lieu to have been made from Lucian Freud’s estate and is the biggest ever offer in lieu in the 100 year history of the scheme. Tax of £16,252,425 has been settled by the acceptance of this collection.

The seven major portraits in the collection include Head of Gerda Boehm, 1964. This portrait is an outstanding example of the artist’s unique technique which is almost sculptural in its use of thick impasto. The sitter is Auerbach’s cousin, one of a select number of friends and relatives which the artist painted over and over again. For Auerbach, familiarity with the subject enabled a more intuitive way of painting which led to a more expressive and direct encounter.

The works on paper range from fine finished portraits to intimate hand-made birthday cards of great charm and inventiveness sent from Auerbach to Lucian Freud.

The Acceptance in Lieu Panel, chaired by Edward Harley, advises ministers on the whether offers should be accepted. It is delighted that this great collection of works has been saved for the British public.

Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said:

‘The Acceptance in Lieu scheme continues to enrich the nation’s public collections and we are delighted that Lucian Freud’s estate has made this third offer. Those visiting the Manchester City Art Gallery and Tate Britain over the coming months will be able to enjoy this wonderful collection of Frank Auerbach’s work for the first time, seeing the work of one great artist through the collecting lens and enthusiasm of another.’

Highlights from this collection will be put on public display at Manchester City Art Gallery from 17 May to 10 August. The whole collection will then be displayed at Tate Britain from 25 August to 2 November 2014. After these displays the works will be permanently allocated to public museums and galleries throughout the UK.

Links and further information

Find out more about the Acceptance in Lieu scheme

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