Lucian Freud exhibition to feature family photos and childhood drawings

A Lucian Freud exhibition featuring family photographs, childhood drawings and illustrated letters will be displayed at the Freud Museum in honour of his centenary year.

During a career spanning six decades, the British painter often used his family as a muse.

His relatives included his neurologist grandfather Sigmund, who was the founder of psychoanalysis, revolutionising the way we understand the mind, as well as his pioneering psychoanalyst aunt Anna.

To honour what would have been Lucian’s centenary year, the Freud Museum in London is staging an exhibition titled Freud: The Painter And His Family from July 6 until January 23.

It will feature rare items and objects that have never been seen before at the Freud Museum in Hampstead – the final home of Sigmund, who died in 1939.

The exhibition will include illustrated childhood letters and books Lucian owned, as well as covers he designed for the books written by his children – four of whom are writers.

His sole surviving sculpture titled Three-legged Horse (1937) and early 1944 painting Palm Tree, which he gave to Anna, will also feature.

The Freud Museum already features Sigmund’s study, desk and famous psychoanalytic couch.

Curator Martin Gayford told the PA news agency: “The Freud Museum decided they’d like to have an exhibition about Lucian, who is obviously another really notable member of the Freud family, to mark Lucian’s centenary, he was born on December 8 1922.

“We spent quite a bit of time thinking about what we could do logically in the Freud Museum which would be connected with the place and different from the various exhibitions later in the year, and we decided that examining his connections with him and other members of his family would be an interesting thing to do and something that hadn’t really been done before.

Lucian Freud painting
Alex Boyt, son of Lucian Freud, stands in front of a portrait of himself called Head of Ali painted by his father, at the Freud Museum in London (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“The exhibition is spread through the museum, in the study we’ve put two works, one is a portrait of Lucie Freud, Lucian’s mother, from 1977 which is hung above the famous couch.

“Going upstairs in the exhibition room we’ve got some archive material of family photographs, drawings of him as a child, and some early works, including the sculpture of the three-legged horse which he made in the late 30s before he went to art school to convince the admissions board that he would have a place at art school, so it played a part in his life and it is the only surviving Freud sculpture.”

Mr Gayford added that for Lucian, the distinction between art and life “scarcely existed”.

He added: “He once remarked that his work was ‘purely autobiographical’. This is, it was concerned with people, animals, places and objects he knew and cared about.

“Therefore, for him, his family was doubly important. Firstly, because his upbringing helped to form him, even when he reacted against it.

“Secondly, because his parents, children and grandchildren were all among his subjects.”

Lucian Freud painting
Alex Boyt in the study of his great-grandfather Sigmund Freud, at the Freud Museum in London (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Carol Seigel, director of the Freud Museum, said: “Lucian Freud: The Painter and His Family is an exploration of Lucian Freud’s extraordinary work through the prism of his family.

“Housed in the home of his grandfather Sigmund, whose work probed the complexities of family life, we hope that visitors will find the exhibition offers an intimacy, a depth and a resonance beyond the usual gallery setting.

“Here, Sigmund worked, surrounded by his books, collections and the original psychoanalytic couch. Here, his grandsons, including Lucian, were able to visit him.

“Now, here, Lucian’s work takes centre stage as we open our archives to reveal illustrated childhood letters and family photographs, and also present unseen or little-known works generously loaned by members of the family.”

On the eve of the Second World War, the Freud family came to England as refugees, having escaped Austria following the Nazi annexation in March 1938.