Adam's IMPORTANT IRISH ART 8th December 2021

84 60 PATRICK SWIFT (1927-1983) Portrait of Lucian Freud in Patrick Swift’s Hatch Street Studio Oil on canvas, 69 x 94cm (27¼ x 37’’) Signed Provenance: The Artist’s Family € 20,000 - 30,000 Between 1948 and 1956, when he was a frequent visitor to Ireland, Lucian Freud developed a friendship with Patrick Swift, whose studio on Hatch Street he regularly shared during his visits. During this time, the two artists observed one another’s work closely; both were interested, at this time, in portraiture and, to a lesser extent, still lifes. Swift was still in the early stages of his career at this point, while Freud had been critically lauded and celebrated in London, with a string of acclaimed solo exhibitions and the support of numerous influential patrons; his work was already being added to public collections in England and the US before he was selected to represent Britain (with Francis Bacon and Ben Nicholson) in 1954. Swift had trained as an artist at the National College of Art in the late 1940s, while working for the Dublin Gas Company, and his work was included in the Exhibition of Living Art in 1950 and periodically there- after through the 1950s. Up until 1952, he was both living and working in the house on Hatch Street, where he shared a large flat with American poet and Trinity student Claire McAllister. That year, their relationship came to an end, Swift having met Oonagh Ryan, who he would go on to marry. Also in 1952, he had his first solo exhibition at the Victor Waddington Galleries in Dublin, which was met with critical acclaim. Swift was, by now, part of a more-or-less bohemian set of artists and writers that included Brendan Behan, Patrick Kavanagh, Nano Reid, and John Ryan; he was also connected to the art dealer Deirdre McDonagh. Freud was introduced to this cultural network through the artist Anne Dunn on his first visit to the city in the late 1940s. On his regular visits to Dublin thereafter, Freud participated in this artistic milieu. Swift’s previously unexhibited portrait of Freud was painted at the Hatch Street studio in the early 1950s, when the two artists were in closest dialogue. It is part of a body of Swift’s work deriving from this period, when he painted a number of significant portraits, including portraits of many of the aforementioned friends and cultural figures (Cronin, Behan, McAllister). The influence of Freud on these early works was noted from the outset. At a technical level, both artists were at this point painting with a precise, severe linearity, working with a restrained, quite cold palette. Swift also approached his work with the same sense of analytical objectivity as Freud, seeking to reveal something of his sitter’s interior life Maybe most notably, both artists’ work from this period sought to capture and convey some of the tensions – psychological and otherwise – that ani- mated their subjects. Tony Gray, reviewing Swift’s 1952 solo exhibition, noted the parallels with Freud’s work, noting how ‘a brooding oppressive atmosphere’ pervaded Swift’s work, with ‘[d]etails … picked out in sharp relief, as they might be un- der the relentless floodlight of a prison interroga- tion’; according to Gray, Swift’s ‘merciless scrutiny … unearths from [his subjects] not a story, nor a decorative pattern, nor even a mood, but some sort of tension which is a property of their exist- ence.’ (1) Photo: Lucian Freud with Brendan Behan in Dublin, 1952. © estate of Daniel Farson / National Portrait Gallery, London