Lucian Freud was one of the world's greatest realist painters. The exhibition explores his portraiture across seven decades, from the early 1940s to his death in 2011, and demonstrates his unrelenting observational intensity.
Portraits were central to the work of Lucian Freud. Working only from life, he once claimed, 'I could never put anything into a picture that wasn't actually there in front of me.' This exhibition presents 130 of Freud's paintings, drawings and etchings, selected in close collaboration with the artist and drawn from public and private collections around the world.
A private man, Freud's relationship with his sitters was played out behind the closed door of the studio. Frequently his works evoke the sense of an emotionally charged drama unfolding, yet his subjects remain elusive. Among the sitters represented are friends, family members (particularly his mother, Lucie) and artists such as Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon and David Hockney, as well as the performance artist Leigh Bowery and Bowery's friend Sue Tilley, the 'benefits supervisor', whom Freud immortalised in a series of monumental paintings in the early 1990s.
The exhibition features several works which have never been seen before in public including Portrait of the Hound, an affectionate double portrait of Freud's assistant, David Dawson and his whippet, Eli exhibited for the first time. Unfinished at the artist's death, with the last brush strokes he made created Eli's ear, alert and listening.