The paintings in this room show the change of style in Freud’s work during the 1950s. He became impatient with his earlier habit of working sitting down, painting in great detail on fine canvas with small, soft sable brushes. Instead he began working standing up, painting in a looser style with larger, hogshair brushes. Freud said that Hotel Bedroom 1954 was ‘the last painting where I was sitting down; when I stood up I never sat down again’. This double portrait shows Freud, with his second wife, Caroline Blackwood, whom he had married in 1953; the marriage was dissolved in 1957. Freud continued to paint searching images of people close to him, as in the portrait of a Pregnant Girl 1960-1 who was to give birth to Freud’s daughter, Bella.
Hotel Bedroom 1954
This double portrait shows Lucian Freud, in shadow against the light from the window, with his second wife, Caroline Blackwood, in a hotel bedroom in Paris. The pair had married in the previous year, when Caroline was 22. Paintings such as this were, at the time, regarded by many as shocking, violent and cruel. Caroline wrote, much later, that she ‘was dismayed, and others were mystified as to why he needed to paint a girl, who at that point still looked childish, as so distressingly old’. This painting was one of the last Freud painted in his earlier style. It was shown in the British Pavilion at the 1954 Venice Biennale, alongside work by Francis Bacon and Ben Nicholson.
Pregnant Girl 1960–1
This is a study of Bernardine Coverley, pregnant with Bella. The sofa is one of a long line of ageing pieces of furniture which have become a familiar feature of Freud’s work; he has always disliked furniture which looks brand new.