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Head of E.O.W. IV
© Frank Auerbach, Courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

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Head of E.O.W. IV 1961

On Display Modern One

Auerbach made a series of portraits of E.O.W. (his companion Estella West) from the 1950s to the 1970s. He painted her regularly in her home, three evenings a week and always by electric light. The lighting is part of the reason he has used these colours. Also, the monochrome paints were cheaper. Auerbach has commented on these portraits: ‘"She was the most important person in my life at the time... The intensity of life with somebody and the sense of its passing has its own pathos and poignancy. There was a sense of futility about it all disappearing into the void and I just wanted to pin something down that would defy time, so it wouldn’t all just go off into thin air." The very thick paint, which is typical of Auerbach’s work, comes from this desire to fix and ‘pin down’.

Glossary Open


An image made with a single colour.



  • Acc. No. GMA 1537
  • Medium Oil on plywood
  • Size 59.80 x 56.80 cm
  • Credit Purchased 1976