Celebrities and bohemians come together for Lucian Freud sale

A rare portrait by Lucian Freud of a fellow painter from the Soho bohemian artistic scene in the 1960s in London is to go on sale at Christie's next year.

A rare portrait by Lucian Freud of a fellow painter from the Soho bohemian artistic scene in the 1960s in London is to go on sale at Christie's next year.

Red-Haired Man on a Chair, a portrait of the artist Tim Behrens, is expected to fetch up to £1.8m in the auction on 9 February. It will go on sale next to Freud's celebrated portrait of the supermodel Kate Moss, who was painted naked and pregnant. Naked Portrait 2002, in a private collection, is one of the few occasions Freud has chosen to paint someone well known. It is expected to sell for about £3.5m.

Christie's announced the sale of the Moss painting in October; the addition of the Behrens picture will make the sale an important one. Freud's paintings rarely come up for auction. This will be one of the few occasions that two of his works have come up for auction at the same time.

As a relative unknown, Behrens, a painter and student at the Slade School of Art, was a more likely candidate for a Freud painting. He was part of the tightly knit group of artists and intellectuals who frequented the Colony Room, the infamous Soho drinking club where Freud and others such as Francis Bacon spent much time during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Other regulars have included such figures as Jeffrey Bernard and George Melly, while current members include the new generation of British artists like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.

Said to be a great admirer of Freud, Behrens posed in the artists' small Paddington studio in 1962 and 1963; Freud is renowned for the length of time taken to complete portraits. The painting features a pile of rags in the background which were to find their way into many other Freud pictures.

The painting was acquired by Erich Sommer, a wealthy art collector who died earlier this year and whose pictures are now coming on to the art market. The portrait has been exhibited widely in London and the United States since 1974. Behrens remains an artist and writer and lives in Spain.

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