Lucian Freud, room guide, room 4

This room includes Naked Girl 1966, the first of the outstanding series of naked portraits Freud produced from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. We are also re-introduced to Harry Diamond, who appears in Paddington Interior, Harry Diamond 1970, almost twenty years after featuring in the Interior in Paddington 1951, shown in room 1. 

Lucian Freud Paddington Interior, Harry Diamond 1970

Freud also continued to paint members of his family: Reflection with Two Children (Self Portrait) 1965 shows the artist with two of his children. Plants as well as humans have always fascinated him: the Large Interior, Paddington 1968-9 shows another of his daughters, Isobel (‘Ib’), lying down on his studio floor for an afternoon nap, under the leaves of a spreading plant. In 1970 Freud’s father died, and his mother became deeply depressed. Room 4 contains some of the series of closely-observed portraits of his mother which Freud began at this time, partly as a way of looking after her. The exhibition curator, William Feaver, has described these extraordinary paintings as ‘among the most intense portraits of one person - by a son to a mother - ever painted’. 

Naked Girl 1966

This was the first of a series of nudes which Freud began in 1966, which he saw as portraits of the whole person; up until then he had tended to focus on the head. ‘I always started with the head; and then I realised that I wanted very deliberately not: the figure not to be strengthened by the head. The head is a limb, of course.’

Paddington Interior, Harry Diamond 1970

This painting shows Harry Diamond in Freud’s flat in Gloucester Terrace, Paddington. This was the last of a number of portraits Freud painted of Diamond. In contrast to the earlier Interior in Paddington 1951, shown in room 1, here Diamond no longer appears as the ‘angry young man’. The earlier work had shown him standing, tense and alert, his fist clenched. Now making a name for himself as a photographer, Diamond is more relaxed, quieter and more pensive, more closely fitting the picture editor Bruce Bernard’s description of him as a ‘complex and sensitive man’.

Lucian Freud Reflection with Two Children (Self-Portrait) 1965

Reflection with Two Children (Self-Portrait) 1965

Freud painted this self-portrait by looking down at his reflection in a mirror placed by his feet; this accounts for the extreme foreshortening, and the halo-like ceiling light just above his left shoulder. The two children are Freud’s daughter and son, Rose and Ali Boyt. Freud said he used a palette knife to describe the space around him, smearing it on and smoothing its surface so that it seems like a strange, grey, voluminous void.

Lucian Freud Large Interior, Paddington 1968-9

Large Interior, Paddington 1968-9

This painting is set in Freud’s studio in Paddington, in a stucco-fronted house in Gloucester Terrace awaiting renovation. Freud’s daughter Isobel (‘Ib’), is lying down on the floor for an afternoon nap, her father’s jacket hung on the wall behind her, the leaves of the spreading plant beside her turning towards the light from the window.