WELL-KNOWN for his thickly impastoed portraits of the human body, Lucian Freud painted every bulge, spot and blemish of his subjects with almost forensic observation. Freud’s early work, which is on display at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester this month, also demonstrates the same scrupulous attention to detail but is surprisingly delicate, precise and decidedly less audacious.
In the new display, three recently acquired works by Freud are shown alongside existing ones from the Gallery’s permanent collection of modern British art and a selection of books featuring drawings and designs accomplished by Freud in the late forties and fifties.
Lucian Freud, Girl with Fig Leaf, 1948, etching on paper, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester. (On Loan from a Private Collection, 2017), Courtesy of The Estate of Lucian Freud. All Rights Reserved 2017/ Bridgeman Images
During the early part of Freud’s career spiky pot plants, the odd sea urchin and stuffed animal heads were just as much part of his oeuvre as people. Freud admitted he had difficulty engaging sitters on account of staring too hard at his subjects. However, later he clearly utilised this approach to his advantage maintaining that, “the task of the artist is to make the human being uncomfortable.”
The drawing, Girl with Fig Leaf depicts Kitty Garman, Freud’s first wife whom he married in 1948, the same year she bore him a child and he painted the mysterious narrative, Interior Scene. Freud used props and plants and in particular, thistles for symbolic effect. He admitted that he only painted the view from a window when he was feeling “strained”, which in this case would have been the beautiful landscape of Connemara in Galway. A strangely ominous and prickly portrait, it is perhaps a reflection of Freud’s impending responsibilities as a father.
by Miranda Charalambous
The exhibition, Lucian Freud: Early Works is on until October 1, 2017 at the Pallant House Gallery, 9 North Pallant, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1TJ
Telephone: +44 (0) 1243 774557
Front page image: Girl with Fig leaf by Lucian Freud, 1948, Etching on paper, Courtesy of The Estate of Lucian FreudTags: 1940s > 1950s > books > British art > Chichester > designs > drawings > exhibition > Gallery > interior > Ireland > Kitty Garman > Lucian Freud > painting > Pallant House Gallery > portrait