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ARTS: National Portrait Gallery acquires extensive archive of Lucien Freud’s work

The National Portrait Gallery recently acquired a large body of Lucien Freud’s sketchbooks, drawings, and letters. Never before published or exhibited, the archive will now be made accessible to the public and in the summer of 2016 the gallery hopes to put a selection of items on display. Director of the National Portrait Gallery, Dr Nicholas Cullinan, made a statement saying “the National Portrait Gallery is grateful to the executors of Lucian Freud’s estate and Arts Council England’s Acceptance in Lieu Scheme for this very important, extensive and generous gift to the nation.”

The collection of forty-seven sketchbooks span much of Freud’s career, from the mid-1940s up until his death in 2011. They appear to have been used by Freud as they came to hand in his studio, comprising numerous studies relating to his major works. One contains drawings of Carolin Blackwood, preliminaries to Freud’s painting Hotel Bedroom. There are sketches made in preparation for his portraits, and book cover designs for Nigel Dennis’s Cards of Identity and Esther Freud’s novel Hideous Kinky. Childhood drawings preserved and annotated by Freud’s mother are expected to provide insight into his life in Germany prior to Hitler’s rise to power. Consequently, the archive will be an important resource for the study of Freud’s life and work.

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Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said “this rare collection of Lucian Freud drawings and letters provides a fascinating glimpse into the work of one of our most pioneering artists. Bringing these never seen before treasures into public collections means that everyone can enjoy and see the early beginnings that shaped his most celebrated work.”

By Billy Myles-Berkouwer

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