‘The artist had depicted Eloise’s portrait a thousand times, but none had seized her essence quite as beautifully as the ‘Lady of Darkness’, dated 1949. The artist would repeatedly draw, paint, erase and collage; reworking the image in his desire to capture her myriad of emotions. This overworked process not only reflected his obsessive-compulsive nature, but also the subjects’ taunted, troubled mind. Heavily applied pencil marks portray her self-inflicted facial scars, with loving precision. She is encapsulated by an abundance of charcoal; reflective of the depressive world in which she existed. A bandage appears to adorn her forehead; but it is merely the result of overworked paper that became abraded and torn which required patching. Now, before we move on to the next piece, does anyone have any questions?’
‘How did Eloise die?’
‘She committed suicide. In his memoirs, the artist describes Eloise of having been infatuated with him; a desire he could never nurture.’
Wonderful. Auerbach’s model for the portrait was called Estella I believe. Was this story inspired at all by her life? Do you know anything about her?
Hi Vincent. Many Thanks. You are are correct in believing this is a portrait of Estella. Although I used elements of Auerbach’s artistic techniques in the story, the characters are totally fictional. If you click on the image it will take you to a summary of the painting. I don’t know much about Estella but it does say that Auerbach completed about 80 drawings and paintings of her. She could well have been his muse, just as Elizabeth Siddal was to the Pre-Raphaelites.
The story is so strange; the plot line advances with psychological suspense; the climax is a real sitting back on the seats and wowing. Well written. Anand Bose from Kerala.