Tate   Shop Prints Tate custom prints Prints by artist

Skip to content
Auerbach: The Origin of the Great Bear (custom print)
  • Close
    Select which type of print you would like...
    • Close
      Select which size of print you would like...
      • Close
        If you would like a frame/wrap make your selection...
          Please review your print and then add to basket.
          Change the room settings
          View print in larger size

          Artwork details

          Auerbach: The Origin of the Great Bear, 1967-8
          Frank Auerbach
          Product code
          Artwork code
          Artist code
          Oil on board 114.6 x 140.2 cm Tate. Presented by the executors of the estate of David Wilkie 1993 © Frank Auerbach, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

          The Origin of the Great Bear was commissioned by David Wilkie, an important collector of Modern British Art, in 1967. Wilkie had previously commissioned Auerbach to produce a work based on Titian’s mythological painting Tarquin and Lucretia. For this commission Wilkie asked Auerbach to produce a painting with a Titianesque subject without referring to a specific work by Titian.

          The subject matter for the painting is the myth of Callisto as told in Meamorphoses. Auerbach interpreted the myth freely, scattering elements of the story within a depiction of a real place – Hampstead Heath. On the horizon is the Royal Free Hospital; the red figure is both the goddess Diana with her hounds and the Labour politician Michael Foot with his dog. The eagle form in the top left represents Jupiter as he prevents Callisto from killing his longlost mother in bear form, which are represented by the seven bright stars as seen in the night sky.

          Note: image shown is our best representation of how your print will look. See more info on Custom Prints

          Artist details

          Born in 1931 in Berlin to Jewish parents, Auerbach was sent to England in 1939 to escape Nazism. After studying in a number of art schools, including the Royal College of Art, he moved to Camden, where he has lived and painted in the same studio since the 1950s. Frank Auerbach’s paintings are some of the most resonant, inventive and perpetually alive works of art of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Since his early works, his intentions have been consistent: ‘To record the life that seemed to me to be passionate and exciting and disappearing all the time’.

          More by this artist
          Customer Service: +44 (0)20 7887 8869
          We accept Maestro, Visa, Mastercard, Delta and Solo
          Every purchase supports Tate