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Girl in Bed

1 of 10 portraits of Lady Caroline Blackwood

© The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Images; private collection; on loan to the National Portrait Gallery, London

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Girl in Bed

by Lucian Freud
oil on canvas, 1952
18 in. x 12 in. (457 mm x 305 mm) overall
Lent by a private collection, 2014
Primary Collection
NPG L258

On display in Room 26 on Floor 2 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Lucian Freud (1922-2011), Artist. Artist or producer of 6 portraits, Sitter in 65 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Despite most of his portraits being of people with whom he had close relations, Freud often preferred not to disclose the identity of his sitters in the titles of his works. This early portrait, entitled simply Girl in Bed, shows the writer Lady Caroline Blackwood in the Hôtel La Louisiane, where she and Freud stayed after they had eloped to Paris. They married in 1953, but divorced soon after in 1958. The technique of high-scrutiny and 'maximum observation' is typical of Freud's early works, and was later described by the artist as the reason for the occasional 'involuntary magnification' of the features of his sitters, as seen here in Blackwood's large eyes. Blackwood later wrote: 'The results were only half me, I think – after all, it was Lucian's vision. The model does not make a very big contribution'.

Placesback to top

  • Place portrayed: France (Hôtel La Louisiane, Paris, France)

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1952back to top

Current affairs

King George VI is found dead in his bed in Sandringham; he had been suffering from lung cancer. His daughter Elizabeth, who was in Kenya at the time, became Queen, the only monarch not to know the precise moment of her accession as her father was alone when he died. Elizabeth was crowned the following year.

Art and science

Samuel Beckett's play, Waiting for Godot is performed for the first time in Paris. The play belongs to the Theatre of the Absurd style, which influenced playwrights such as Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard.
Agatha Christie's play The Mousetrap opens in London. It is still going.


Mau Mau rebels in Kenya rise up against the British colonial administration. The rebellion was sparked by the growing poverty of the native farmers under the rule of white settlers and called for Kenyan independence. The violence of the rebels, who often murdered settlers and loyalists, was met by the indiscriminate suppression by the British Military, who executed hundreds of suspects.

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Max Alletzhauser

17 March 2021, 14:49

The poet Robert Lowell died with this portrait in his arms after an apparent heart attack on September 12, 1977. Returning from London, he was travelling in a taxi from Kennedy Airport on his way to see his ex-wife, the writer Elizabeth Hardwick. Among his other possessions was his briefcase with notes for new poems.