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Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales acquires Lucian Freud’s Auerbach paintings

Two paintings by Frank Auerbach have found a permanent home at National Museum Cardiff. The works, which will be on display in the museum from 17 March, has been accepted in lieu of inheritance tax from the estate of his friend the world-famous artist, Lucian Freud, who died in 2011, and allocated permanently to Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum of Wales.


Auerbach’s oil on canvas Tree on Primrose Hill 1985-89, and the felt pen on paper Tree (Primrose Hill) will be on display at the museum from 17 March. A third oil painting Head of EOW 1955 will come to the museum in 2016 following its loan to Tate’s retrospective of the artist at the end of this year.


The three paintings are part of a collection of 40 paintings and drawings by Frank Auerbach, one of Britain’s most celebrated living painters. His friend and fellow-artist Lucian Freud collected these paintings and drawings over many years, building the most significant private collection of Auerbach’s work. In 2014, Arts Council England, announced this as the largest ever single acceptance in lieu and the works have been distributed to museums and galleries across the UK.


Lucian Freud specified in his will that the artworks should be donated to the nation in place of inheritance tax. Freud, who was widely considered to be Britain's greatest living artist before his death at the age of 88, fled to the UK from Germany with his family to escape the Nazis, before becoming a British citizen in 1939.


Lucian Freud himself had strong links to Wales. He trained alongside the Welsh artist Cedric Morris, worked for a period in Wales and is represented in the national art collections at National Museum Cardiff.


Other museums and galleries benefiting from the works are in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Belfast, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the Lake District (Kendal), Hartlepool, Wakefield, Manchester, Birmingham, Walsall, Bristol, Cardiff, Norwich, Cambridge, Oxford and London. Other works accepted from Freud’s estate have been allocated to Liverpool and Leeds. 


David Anderson, said, “These paintings will be great additions to the national art collections. We already have one major oil by Frank Auerbach already, Park Village East, and these works further expand our contemporary art collection.


“We were very fortunate in 2013 to acquire a beautiful bronze sculpture of a galloping horse by the famous French Impressionist, Edgar Degas thanks to the Lucian Freud Estate.


“I am delighted that these magnificent works will now be on public display offering an exciting opportunity for visitors to engage more closely with contemporary art.”



Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates, said, “These remarkable works by Frank Auerbach will be a significant asset to the National Museums already impressive collection of art. This offer in lieu will enable Lucien Freud’s collection of paintings to be enjoyed by a wide audience. I hope people will take the opportunity to visit and experience these beautiful paintings and the many others on offer at the Museum.”