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The female nude has been Freud’s main theme for years. Critics have linked his work to the tradition of realism, but he pointed out ‘there is a distinction between fact and truth. Truth has an element of revelation about it.’Like William Coldstream’s paintings also shown in this room, Freud reminds us that this woman is standing in his studio. The rags piled behind her are those he uses to clean his brushes. They introduce an idea of dirtiness, perhaps even bodily secretions. He may be suggesting there is more to a truthfully represented body than its appearance.

May 2007