Lucian Freud

Freud was born in Berlin, to Ernst Freud, the youngest son of the great psychoanalyst Sigmund, and Lucie Brasch. His parents, Lucian and his brothers – Stephen and Clement – moved to England in the summer of 1933 fearing Nazi Germany’s restrictions persecution of Jews.

He trained at art school, and in the immediate postwar years began a series of portraits that made him famous.

‘In paintings like “Girl With Roses” (1947-48) and “Girl With a White Dog” (1951-52), he put the pictorial language of traditional European painting in the service of an anti-romantic, confrontational style of portraiture that stripped bare the sitter’s social facade. Ordinary people — many of them his friends — stared wide-eyed from the canvas, vulnerable to the artist’s ruthless inspection.

From the late 1950s, when he began using a stiffer brush and moving paint in great swaths around the canvas, Mr. Freud’s nudes took on a new fleshiness and mass. His subjects, pushed to the limit in exhausting extended sessions, day after day, dropped their defenses and opened up. The faces showed fatigue, distress, torpor.

The flesh was mottled, lumpy and, in the case of his 1990s portraits of the performance artist Leigh Bowery and the phenomenally obese civil servant Sue Tilley, shockingly abundant.

The relationship between sitter and painter, in his work, overturned traditional portraiture. It was “nearer to the classic relationship of the 20th century: that between interrogator and interrogated,” the art critic John Russellwrote in “Private View,” his survey of the London art scene in the 1960s.’

– An excerpt from The New York Times

‘Freud’s portraits are the realisation in paint of a relationship between artist and model that has slowly developed over time behind closed doors. His friends, family and acquaintances have always been eclectic, drawn from all walks of life, and this is reflected in the variety of faces and bodies that occupy Freud’s paintings. Although many of his subjects have led complex lives, most of them – with the exception of a few public figures – prefer to hold on to their anonymity.’

– An excerpt from an article by Sarah Howgate, Curator of Lucian Freud Portraits

Lucian Freud died in 2011, aged 88.