Lucian Freud - Portrait of John Minton - 1952 / 2016
The Royal College of Art has announced that one of Lucian Freud’s most notable works, and one of the jewels in the College’s collection – John Minton, 1952 – has been made available as a full-size reproduction in an edition of 500 digital prints, thanks to independent publisher HENI and the Lucian Freud Archive.
The print (diasec mounted giclée on aluminum) will be sold through HENI Productions and proceeds will go towards the RCA’s scholarship funds, to ensure that the world’s best and brightest art and design students are able to study here at the RCA, the number one University for Art and Design in the world.
John Minton was described by art historian Frances Spalding as ‘one of [the] century’s most emotional portraits’. Minton (1917–57) commissioned this portrait after seeing Freud’s 1952 portrait of Francis Bacon. The portrait combines the raw technical brilliance and emotional acuity that are representative of Freud’s maturing style. John Minton was a tutor at the RCA between 1949 and 1956 – a role that he combined with an active practice as an artist and illustrator – having been a key figure of Neo-Romanticism in the 1940s. This portrait holds a unique place in the Royal College of Art’s Collection, both for its outstanding quality and its subject, whose influence was felt over a generation of artists.
Fellow painter Bridget Riley remembers: ‘the warmth and heart of the school was John Minton, whose compassion, sophistication and wit were immensely reassuring. You realised at once that the problems he faced were in essence common ones. He was much loved by the students.’
In ‘Some Thoughts on Painting’ published in Encounter magazine, July 1954, Freud said: ‘Painters who use life itself as their subject-matter, working with the object in front of them, or constantly in mind, do so in order to translate life into art almost literally, as it were… The painter makes real to others his innermost feelings about all that he cares for.'
Contemporary and Royal College of Art alumnus Frank Auerbach said of these early works, ‘The subject is raw, not cooked to be more digestible as art, not covered in a gravy of ostentatious tone or colour, not arranged on a plate as a "composition". The paintings live because their creator has been passionately attentive to their theme, and his attention has left something for us to look at. It seems a sort of miracle.'
In 1957, John Minton took his own life, bequeathing this painting to the RCA. It remains one of the most popular works in the collection, and is frequently requested for inclusion in Freud exhibitions in museums around the world. 2017 will be Minton’s centenary and there will be considerable interest in the artist and his work, with various exhibitions and publications.
Dean of Fine Art, Professor Juan Cruz of the RCA said: 'It is thanks to the trustees of the Freud Archive, Bridgeman Images and HENI that we were granted the exceptional opportunity reproduce this, most treasured, painting from the RCA Collection as a print of such outstanding quality. The painting resonates with many people on many different levels; for me, it is the realisation of the relationship between artist and model, as Lucian Freud has so tenderly captured both sides of Minton – the gentle and generous teacher, and the pensive outsider.'
Medium: Diasec mounted giclée print on aluminium
Size: 41 x 26 cm
Edition of 500
Price: £1,250 (plus VAT).