10 things you should know about Lucian Freud

Lucian Freud, the “anti-photoshop” painter is surely one of the most important figures of contemporary art. Known for his outrageously realistic portraits, often deranging, he passed away not long ago, in 2011. Artsper offers you a few facts about his life to know and comprehension elements to understand his work better.  


Born in Berlin in December 8, 1922, his family fled to London after Hitler came to power in 1933.

portrait photo du peintre Lucian freud


He was the son of Ernst Freud, himself son of Sigmund Freud.

Sigmund Freud and his sons Martin and Ernst
Sigmund Freud and his sons Martin and Ernst


All of his works are autobiographical. Practically all the subjects he chooses to paint tell us a part of him and his life.

Autoportrait: Réflexion, 1985
Autoportrait: Réflexion, 1985


Only once in his life did Lucian Freud paint a portrait of a person he disliked. And for good reasons! He hated the model so much (Bernard Breslauer, a book dealer) that he was deliberately horrid and mocked him by painting him “even more repulsive than he actually was”. Breslauer immediately destroyed it.

Big Sue Tilley, 1995
Big Sue Tilley, 1995


Grandson of psychoanalysis, it seemed that his grandfather’s heritage transcribed in his artistic approach. He would take a while painting his subjects, sometimes years. He would paint the model multiple times, in different postures, he thought this process helped him understand his subject better.


Close to Francis Bacon, his mentor, Freud did not speak very highly of other artists. Indeed, he called Man Ray “noisy and vulgar”, thought Picasso was “absolutely poisonous” and Max Ernst “heavy and stiff”.


Lucian Freud hated Renaissance art. It is linked to a period where man was celebrated as founder and creator. Freud did not share this opinion at all. For him ti was vital that man remembered that he is declining matter.


Freud completed some rather unflattering portraits of super model Kate Moss or even Queen Elizabeth. He also liked to paint his friends and some rather mischievous characters. Freud painted a portrait of a bank-robber. He was immortalized with it seems a greater respect shown than Kate Moss or the Queen.

Kate Moss, 2002
Queen Elizabeth II, 2001
Queen Elizabeth II, 2001


Lucian Freud was deeply influenced by Francis Bacon, and admired him greatly. Francis Bacon was represented in some of his most famous works. Both of them exhibited their art at the 1954 Venice Biennale.

Francis Bacon, 1956
Francis Bacon, 1956


He was one of the most expensive living artists of his time with one of his canva sold at 34 million dollars.

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