Freud’s last work to go on show
The last work painted by Lucian Freud before he died this summer is going on show for the first time.
The unfinished nude painting, Portrait of the Hound 2011, shows Freud’s assistant David Dawson with his dog Eli.
Freud was painting the work shortly before he died after an illness at the age of 88 on July 20.
The painting will go on display at the National Portrait Gallery, in a show opening in February 2012 which is being billed as the “most ambitious exhibition of the artist’s work for 10 years”.
It will feature more than 100 paintings and works on paper, beginning with the British artist’s earliest in the 1940s, loaned from museums and private collections around the world.
The exhibition will focus on Freud’s portraiture and feature rarely-seen paintings of the artist’s lovers, friends and family.
The show, Lucian Freud Portraits, is the result of many years planning by the London gallery with Freud, who was a towering figure in the art world for more than 50 years.
National Portrait Gallery director Sandy Nairne said: “The National Portrait Gallery is delighted to bring together so many outstanding portraits created by one of the great artists of our time.
“Lucian Freud painted people with an inquisitive brilliance.”
Freud, grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and the brother of the late television personality Sir Clement Freud, was born in Berlin in 1922.
His Jewish family had to flee the city in 1933 and he become a British citizen in 1939.
His key pieces include Girl With A White Dog, Naked Girl Asleep and Reflection (self portrait), and he was particularly known for his paintings of nudes.
Freud’s works have recently fetched millions at auction, including Benefits Supervisor Sleeping that sold in 2008 for £17.2 million.
Freud was painting Portrait Of The Hound for four years before he died and was “taking his time” over the work, the exhibition’s curator, Sarah Howgate, said.
Ms Howgate, who met Freud to discuss the show just three weeks before his death, said he had been excited by the picture.
“Like any artist, he was most excited about the most recent work he was painting,” she said.
“He started every painting as if it was his first. He wanted it (each painting) to be a unique vision, different from the last one.”
The painting shows a nude Dawson lying next to the dog, a whippet, as “equals”.
In recent years, a theme of Freud’s work had been the “complicity between the human and the animal”.
Ms Howgate said of the double portrait: “Never has Freud’s phrase ‘a human is an animal with his clothes off’ seemed more relevant.”
She said of the portrait: “He had continued working on it until he was too frail to carry on and it was left in the artist’s studio when he died.”
Works on show will include The Brigadier, 2003-04, of Andrew Parker Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall’s first husband, with his uniform jacket unbuttoned to reveal his “fleshy paunch”.
There are four portraits of Freud’s first wife, Kitty Garman, including Girl With A White Dog (1950-1), painted shortly before they separated.