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Realist painter Lucian Freud, one of
Britain’s most distinguished and highly regarded artists, has died aged 88.
New York dealer William Acquavella said Freud had died at his London home on
Wednesday after an unspecified illness.
Freud, a grandson of the psycho-analyst Sigmund Freud, was born in Berlin in
1922 and fled to Britain with his Jewish family in 1933, when he was 10.
Freud – particularly known for his paintings of nudes – became a British
citizen in 1939.
last year, a record price for a work on paper by Freud
His works have been increasingly sought after at recent auctions and his
portrayal of an overweight nude woman sleeping on a couch sold in 2008 for
$33.6m (£20.6m) – a world record for a work by a living artist.
‘Lived to paint’
Mr Acquavella described Freud “as one of the great painters of the 20th
“In company he was exciting, humble, warm and witty. He lived to paint and
painted until the day he died, far removed from the noise of the art world.”
Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate gallery, said: “The vitality of
[Freud’s] nudes, the intensity of the still life paintings and the presence of
his portraits of family and friends guarantee Lucian Freud a unique place in the
pantheon of late 20th Century art.
“His early paintings redefined British art and his later works stand
comparison with the great figurative painters of any period.”
Former Observer art critic William Feaver, who knew Freud for more than 40
years, said Freud was someone who had “restored portraiture to its proper
place”, by focusing on all types of people, not just successful businessmen and
Lucian Freud muse Sue Tilley talks to BBC Breakfast about her
experiences with the artist
“He said everything he did was autobiographical and a self portrait. He was a
witty, impulsive artist but generous with it.”
Mr Feaver said Freud had left several unfinished paintings.
He said: “He always liked to keep a couple of paintings on the go in case he
dropped off the twig and I know he’s done that.”
Former muse Sue Tilley, who sat for the nude Benefits Supervisor Sleeping,
said she had “fantastic experiences” while posing for the portrait.
“I found out last night on Twitter, bizarrely, and I did start crying,” she
told BBC Breakfast.
“I haven’t seen him for a long time and he’s not really a close friend now
but it’s a part of my life that’s kind of gone.”
Freud, the son of an architect and older brother of the late broadcaster
Clement Freud, went to the Central School of Art, in London and then to the East
Anglian School of Painting and Drawing and London’s Goldsmiths College.
At first he confined himself to drawing, but when he was 17 had a
self-portrait accepted for reproduction in the magazine, Horizon.
Freud was recognised early on and after a spell in the Merchant Navy in 1942,
had his first one-man show in 1944, when he was 21.
- Grandson of Sigmund Freud
- Born 1922, his family moved to Britain from Germany in 1933 to escape
- Spent most of working life in London’s Paddington as its sleaziness appealed
- Works in public ownership include Bananas at Southampton City Art Gallery
and portrait of Sir Cedric Morris in National Museum of Wales
After the war he went to France and Greece, and having
taken up painting by then, returned to the UK in 1948 to teach for 10 years at
the Slade School of Art.
Freud was married twice, first to sculptor Jacob Epstein’s daughter, Kitty,
the subject of his celebrated Girl With a White Dog. His second wife was the
daughter of the Marquess of Dufferin and Ava.
Freud’s other key works include Naked Girl Asleep and Reflection (self
portrait). The Queen and supermodel Kate Moss are among those to have sat for
Freud was a member of the Order of Merit, one of Britain’s most prestigious
chivalry honours presented to individuals by the Queen for great achievement in
the fields of the arts, learning, literature and science.
The honour is restricted to 24 members at any one time, plus additional
foreign recipients and past recipients include Florence Nightingale, Sir Winston
Churchill, Sir Edward Elgar and Mother Teresa.
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