Lucian Freud Essay Example


Luсiаn Frеud

Luсiаn Frеud

Luсiаn Frеud was an artist who was born in 1922. His father was the son of the famous psychologist, Sigmund Freud. Freud was educated in different art schools such as the Goldsmiths College in London and after a difficult time in school, he joined the Navy but did not stay for long. With his different paintings especially those of his ex-wives, he gained some attention. After the Second World War, Freud held a showing at the Festival of Britain and he won many awards. Despite the fact that Freud was a great artist of the 20th and 21st century, he was not well embraced as it is the case for other artists (Figura, 2007). This piece of work will give a critical discussion of Luсiаn Frеud as an artist and various aspects associated with him.

Different artists get their motivation and ideas from various sources. Freud’s early career as a painter was largely influenced by surrealism. This was a cultural movement that started in the early 20th century and dealt with visual artworks and writings. Nonetheless, by the mid 20th century, Freud’s work tended towards realism. Freud was an extremely private and guarded individual and as such, his paintings are mostly of family and friends. He painted from life and spent considerable amount of time with the subject from the time he started a piece of work to its completion (Freud, Gayford & Hockney, 2012).

Education in the line of arts is also an aspect that can be attributed to Freud’s success in his career. He studied at the Central School of Art situated in London and later at Cedric Morris’ East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing that was then located in Dedham. Freud also schooled at Goldsmiths’ College which is an affiliate of the University of London.

He majored in figurative art and as such, he is recognized as a leading 20th century portraitist. His paintings were linked with German Expressionism and Surrealism when it came to depicting animals, plants as well as people in remarkable juxtapositions. The use of animals in his compositions cannot be underemphasized. In most cases, he featured a pet alongside the owner. Some examples of portraits whereby Freud featured animals and individuals in his work include Eli and David as well as Guy and Speck. His passion for horses was great and he had numerous portraits of horses such as the Skewbald Mare (Figura, 2007). Plants also featured in Freud’s paintings.

Freud used the formal elements of art in his work as a way of making it perfect, attractive and interesting to the viewers. Some of the elements include line, pattern, form, shape, composition, texture and most importantly, colour in his paintings. A combination of these elements greatly determines the final appearance of the end product or piece of art. Freud’s early paintings were relatively small in size but later improved as time passed by. According to Freud, Gayford and Hockney (2012), Freud usually began his paintings by first drawing them in charcoal, on the canvas after which he applied paint to a small part of the canvas, and progressively worked outward from the that area. In his later career life, Freud was involved in painting his fellow artists.

Freud, Gayford and Hockney (2012) state that most of the works associated with Freud were made using various tools such as small sable brushes for instance the Girl with a Kitten and Man with Thistle. From the mid 20th century, Freud concentrated on portraiture especially nudes. He later developed a much more free style whereby he made use of large hog-hair brushes. He focused on the colour and texture of flesh and used much thicker paint, as well as impasto. He also made standing up and high chair paints. With regard to presentation, most of Freud’s work was somber in nature. It was and done using the impasto technique of painting. The works were mostly set in city scapes and unsettling interiors. Freud worked from work studies. He mostly did his paintings on canvas and first used charcoal before proceeding to painting. The principles of design have been applied in Freud’s works to engage the viewer in one way or the other. They are associated with psychological penetration as well as discomforting scrutiny of the relationship between model and artist.

By the time Luсiаn Frеud died in 2011, he had created many portraits and paintings, each trying to convey some message to the viewers. For sake of this assignment, the painting by the title; Girl in Bed by Freud’s will be discussed. It was a portrait that was done in 1952 using the style of contemporary realism. The size of the portrait was 45.7 by 30.5 cm and can be found in private collection. The media used in making the portrait were oil and canvas. Most of Freud’s portraits were of individuals with whom he had close relations but he mostly opted not to reveal the identity of his sitters in his works’ titles. The portrait by the name Girl in Bed depicted the writer, Lady Caroline Blackwood. It was taken in a hotel, La Louisiane, where Fred and Caroline had stayed after eloping from Paris. They married but later divorced (Candid magazine, 2015). High-scrutiny and maximum observation can be seen in this portrait and Freud’s earlier works and he associated it with the occasional magnification of his sitters features for instance Blackwood’s big eyes.

Girl in Bed

Lucian Freud


Despite the fact that there are numerous artists from the past as well as in the contemporary times, I selected Lucian Freud as the artist of choice for the discussion. This is more so because although he has not been widely recognized as it should have been, his work really inspires me. His figurative art is amazing and the fact that he concentrated on family and friends is a good thing. Through his works, he was in a position to display various life aspects to the public. His dedication to his pieces of art to a point of spending considerable time on a painting shows that he loved his job and was determined to make the best out of it.


Candid magazine (2015). Girl – Lucian Freud’s Portraits of His Second Wife. Retrieved from

Figura, S. (Ed.). (2007). Lucian Freud: the painter’s etchings. New York: Museum of Modern Art New York.

Freud, L., Gayford, M., & Hockney, D. (2012). Lucian Freud: Painting People. New Haven: Yale University Press.