"To paint the same head over and over leads to unfamiliarity; eventually you get near the raw truth about it, just as people only blurt out the raw truth in the middle of a family quarrel."
Julia Yardley Mills is unusual amongst Frank Auerbach’s models in that she is a professional. She began sitting for him at Sidcup Art College in the 1950s, and, over weekly sittings up until 1997, maintained a consistently stately bearing – head raised to look upwards out of the canvas – that tended to lead Auerbach to respond, as here, by rendering the hollow of her left eyesocket with two decisive strokes that produced a left-facing chevron. Another product of this working relationship was the pair becoming “real friends” and devising the nicknames “Frankie” and “Jimmie”. The latter serves as a corrective to the rather mechanical, impersonal note struck by the initials, “J.Y.M.”, from which they derive. Other sitters have ranged from the painter’s wife and son, to the writers and curators William Feaver and Catherine Lampert. These last two – who tend to bow their heads to be painted – have written about the pacing, muttering, gestures, literary talk, grimaces, and periods of silence that fill their regular weekly 2-hour appointments in his London studios. For a full painting description on the British Council’s website please click on the link below under ‘More on this painting’
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British Council Collection
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