Room 7 features works on paper, including a pencil drawing of Freud’s father and a final drawing of his mother, The Painter’s Mother Dead 1989. Freud had made a few etchings in the 1940s, but did not take it up again until 1982. The exhibition’s curator, William Feaver, has said ‘To Freud etching is a kind of reflective drawing - he draws, scrawls on the copper plate, and then, once it’s been put into the acid bath and has been proofed by the printer, he discovers what it’s like - it’s rather like getting your snaps back from the chemist.’ Freud made etchings of friends such as the picture editor Bruce Bernard 1985; a display of Bernard’s photographic portraits of artists, including Lucian Freud, can be seen in Room 18 at Tate Britain.
Also in room 7 is an etching of Freud’s solicitor, Lord Goodman in his Yellow Pyjamas 1987, who managed to find time to sit while he was having breakfast in bed.
The Painter’s Mother Dead 1989
Freud’s mother died in August 1989. He had painted portraits of her almost uninterruptedly from the death of his father in 1970 until the mid-1980s, when she was over 90. This is his final portrait of her, drawn on the day after she died.
Lord Goodman in his Yellow Pyjamas 1987
Freud had made a few etchings during the 1940s, but did not return to printmaking again until the early 1980s. One of his reasons for doing this was that his paintings were getting extremely expensive, beyond the pockets of ordinary people. Etchings, printed in multiples, were more affordable. In this one, the colour of the pyjamas has been added with watercolour wash. It shows Freud’s lawyer, Arnold Goodman, a public figure of great importance who was too busy to sit for Freud during the day.
Freud came to him instead, at eight o’clock in the morning, and drew him in bed, over breakfast. As the curator of this exhibition, William Feaver, has said ‘the head was, formally speaking, ugly, yet of course when you look at it, and explore those extraordinary elephantine folds, you see not only rugged beauty but you also see interest, humour and human intelligence.’