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Definition: Freud, Lucian from Philip's Encyclopedia

British painter, b. Germany, grandson of Sigmund Freud. He is regarded as one of the strongest contemporary British figure painters. His most characteristic subjects are portraits, such as Francis Bacon (1952), and nudes, often painted in strikingly realistic close-up.

Summary Article: Freud, Lucian
From Chambers Biographical Dictionary


♦ British painter

Born in Berlin, Germany, he is the grandson of Sigmund Freud. After moving to Great Britain in 1931, he studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London (1938-39) and the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing, Dedham (1939-42). His first sketch (a self-portrait) was published when he was 17. In his early years he was one of the neo-Romantic group of English painters along with Graham Sutherland and John Piper, but since the mid-1940s he has developed a linear, realistic style. This is seen best in his acutely observed portraits, self-portraits and nude studies, such as Girl with a White Dog (1951-52, Tate, London). From about 1958 he developed a freer style, painting his figures from disconcerting angles, as in Standing by the Rags (1988-89, Tate Britain). In the 1980s he began to include more complex, multi-figure compositions in his output, and in the early 1990s he painted a series of nudes of the performance artist Leigh Bowery. His controversial portrait of Queen Elizabeth II (2001) was dismissed as "a travesty" by some critics and praised as "brave" and "honest" by others. In 2008 his 1995 painting Benefits Supervisor Sleeping sold at auction for £17.2 million, setting a new record for the work of a living painter. He became a British citizen in 1939, was made a Companion of Honour in 1983 and was appointed to the Order of Merit in 1993.

  • Feaver, William Lucian Freud (2002).
© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

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