In 1963, Henrietta certainly can not anticipate that she will support the questioning of the artist about the deterioration of the body. She is drug addicted and Francis already foresees an accelerated aging when he paints her figure in the nude with a syringe stuck in her arm.
Henrietta is lying on a bed, her head and breasts in close up. Francis used this image several times until 1969. The photo, like the Dorian Gray of Oscar Wilde, has not aged. It is not the same story with the paintings. At the same time, Francis is looking on the body of George Dyer as an illusory maintenance of an eternal male youth.
The 1968 image of Henrietta is titled Version No. 2 of lying figure with hypodermic syringe. This oil on canvas 198 x 148 cm was sold for $ 15M including premium by Sotheby's on November 14, 2006. It now comes at Christie's in London on June 30, lot 6. The press release of May 6 announced an estimate in the region of £ 20M.
A meeting with De Kooning in early 1968 had convinced Francis against his own figurative style that a tangle of colors could evoke the female flesh. Henrietta became an accumulation that we imagine teeming. We have to compare her image with the other versions of the same theme for perceiving that she is a naked woman and confirming her attitude. The full sharpness of the syringe unchanged from the 1963 original version makes it by contrast a poignant reflection on the ravages of time.
SOLD for £ 20.2M including premium