Lucian Freud

Two Plants


Not on display

Lucian Freud 1922–2011
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1499 × 1200 mm
frame: 1670 × 1365 × 90 mm
Purchased 1980

Display caption

In the mid-1960s Freud embarked on a series of paintings of botanical subjects, an interest that was anticipated in an earlier painting, 'Interior in Paddington' 1951. 'Two Plants' is rendered with meticulous precision and is perhaps Freud's most ambitious and most resolved expression of this theme. He began the painting in 1977 and it took three years to complete. Freud recalls that it provided a means of accustoming himself to the light of a new studio. He describes it as 'lots of little portraits of leaves', adding 'I wanted it to have a really biological feeling of things growing and fading and leaves coming up and others dying'.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

T03105 TWO PLANTS 1977–80


Inscribed on stretcher with advice against varnishing
Oil on canvas, 59 3/8 × 47 3/4 (150 × 120)
Purchased from Anthony d'Offay Ltd (Grant-in-Aid) 1980
Exh: Lucian Freud, Anthony d'Offay, October–November 1982 (3)
Repr: Lawrence Gowing, Lucian Freud, 1982, pl.160 in colour (a detail is reproduced in colour on the front and back covers); London Magazine, XXII, October 1982, p.21; The Tate Gallery: Illustrated Biennial Report 1980–82, 1983, p.54

Dr Bernard Verdcourt of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, wrote (letter, 24 November 1982) that the climbing plant is Helichrysum petiolarum DC, and the plant at the bottom of the picture Aspidistra elatior Bl. James Kirkman told the compiler that both plants were indoors in the artist's studio, and that during the years when the painting was in progress both underwent changes, one of them nearly dying.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984


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