The artist Lucien Freud was a regular visitor at Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre, where he would drop in, happy not to be recognised, and sketch the horses.
Sister Mary Joy, the Roman Catholic nun who runs the centre and set it up originally 30 years ago, had no idea who he was when he first arrived, but she finds that having an artist in residence helps with fundraising.
Little did she know quite how much. Money is always short and the stable yard needs refurbishment, so she has decided to part with a sketch he did of one of the ponies – Goldie.
It will go on sale at auction at Chiswick Auctions on 3 December and is expected to fetch between £40,000 and £60,000.
Freud, who died in 2011 aged 88, donated money to the centre from time to time and brought apples and carrots for the ponies on his visits.
He gave her the sketch years ago and it has sat unnoticed in her office ever since, so as far as the art world is concerned it is a new discovery, ‘previously unknown’, and it’s causing some excitement.
“I love the Sketch of Goldie for what it reveals about Lucian’s process – a canvas worked up in charcoal and then rubbed over with paint rags to give it form and energy,” said Krassi Kuneva, from Chiswick Auctions.
I met Sister Mary Joy in March and wrote a feature about the work of the Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre which you can read here. The difference it makes to disabled children is remarkable.