Lucian Freud

1922–2011

In Tate Britain

Biography

Lucian Michael Freud, OM CH (; 8 December 1922 – 20 July 2011) was a British painter and draughtsman, specialising in figurative art, and is known as one of the foremost 20th-century portraitists. He was born in Berlin, the son of Jewish architect Ernst L. Freud and the grandson of Sigmund Freud. Freud got his first name "Lucian" from his mother in memory of the ancient writer Lucian of Samosata. His family moved to England in 1933 to escape the rise of Nazism. From 1942–43 he attended Goldsmiths College, London. He served at sea with the British Merchant Navy during the Second World War.

His early career as a painter was influenced by surrealism, but by the early 1950s his often stark and alienated paintings tended towards realism. Freud was an intensely private and guarded man, and his paintings, completed over a 60-year career, are mostly of friends and family. They are generally sombre and thickly impastoed, often set in unsettling interiors and urban landscapes. The works are noted for their psychological penetration and often discomforting examination of the relationship between artist and model. Freud worked from life studies, and was known for asking for extended and punishing sittings from his models.

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Artworks

Artist as subject

Features

  • Tate Etc

    Wish you were here: Behind the curtain

    Susie Gauntlett

    On a visit to the Tate Archive, Susie Gauntlett discovers a postcard written by a young Lucian Freud.
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    Five Ways to Paint a Body

    Explore different approaches to depicting the human figure through the work of five great British artists
  • Art Term

    Figurative art

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  • Art Term

    School of London

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