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The sitter for this work is the artist Celia Paul (born 1959), who was a student at the Slade School of Art, London in the late 1970s when Freud returned there as a visiting tutor. Paul became Freud’s lover and in 1984 had a son by him. The intimacy that this work conveys, enhanced by its focus on the head and shoulders of the figure and her attire, is not simply due to the personal relationship between artist and subject. It is also a result of the intense scrutiny under which Freud placed his subjects while painting.

October 2013