Lucian Freud

Lucian Freud, by Lucian Freud, 1963 - NPG 5205 - © The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Images

© The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Images

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Lucian Freud

by Lucian Freud
oil on canvas, 1963
12 in. x 9 7/8 in. (305 mm x 251 mm)
Purchased, 1978
Primary Collection
NPG 5205

Sitterback to top

  • Lucian Freud (1922-2011), Artist. Sitter in 42 portraits, Artist of 5 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Lucian Freud (1922-2011), Artist. Artist of 5 portraits, Sitter in 42 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This is the last of three self-portraits painted in quick succession in 1963. By this time, the artist's technique had developed from being meticulously detailed to a more broadly painted, expressive style. Here, Freud's squinting gaze is arresting in its directness, but his features are abstracted into painterly swathes of flesh-colour. The portrait is entitled Man's Head (Self-portrait III).

The following year, inspired by his own recent attempts to capture his own likeness, Freud caused a scandal when he set his students at Norwich College of Art an assignment to paint their own naked self-portrait which, he asserted, was ‘the most revealing, telling and believable object.’

Linked publicationsback to top

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1963back to top

Current affairs

The Secretary of State for War, John Profumo is found to have lied to the House of Commons when he denied having an affair with the showgirl, Christine Keeler. The Profumo Affair was a public scandal for the Conservative party, and ultimately contributed to the resignation of Harold Macmillan.

Art and science

Doctor Who is first broadcast on the BBC with William Hartnell playing the Doctor. This long running science fiction series about an alien Time Lord who travels through time and space in his police-box-shaped Tardis has been watched by generations of viewers (often from behind the back of the sofa), and features imaginative, but traditionally low-budget, special effects, innovative electronic music, and the Doctor's greatest enemy, the Daleks.


John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Texas. The arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald for his murder did not prevent a score of conspiracy theories involving Cuba, the CIA, the KGB, and the Mafia among others.
Martin Luther King delivers his 'I have a dream' speech, marking an important moment in the civil rights movement in America and helping to secure him the Nobel Peace Prize' in 1964.

Tell us more back to top

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Eleanor Hickey

13 May 2018, 13:58

Lucian Michael Freud was born on December 8, 1922 in Berlin, Germany. Freud was most well known for his self portraits and nude studies. A lot of his earlier work contained surrealistic elements, but he is more famous for his figurative paintings which he was heavily influenced by realism and ‘intense observation’. Most of his models that he painted were friends or family members and this relationship that he has with the model was a central theme to the painting. ‘Man’s Head’ was painted in 1969 and, much like his other self-portraits only shows just the head and neck plus the occasional arm, shoulder or even hand.

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