‘Funny, miserable, kind’ Lucian Freud dies at 88
Sigmund’s grandson and Clement’s estranged brother, Freud was one of UK’s most respected artists
The painter Lucian Freud has died peacefully at home at the age of 88. The news was broken by his niece, broadcaster Emma Freud, on her Twitter feed yesterday: "Oh... My uncle Lucian has died. Oh."
Freud - grandson of Sigmund Freud, the father of pyschoanalysis - came to the UK from his native Germany at the age of 10 and was later naturalised as a British citizen. He became one of Britain's most respected - and expensive - artists, renowned for his defiantly objective depictions of naked models.
Despite the unflatteringly realistic mottled flesh tones and un-pretty poses he made use of, celebrity sitters queued up for the honour of being painted by Freud. He painted nudes of Jerry Hall and Kate Moss - and a clothed portrait of the Queen, described by some as "disrespectful" for its apparent five-o'clock shadow.
Freud defied artistic convention to confine himself to figure-painting at a time when the future seemed to lie with abstraction. Sticking to his guns, he enjoyed the last laugh in 2008 when his Benefits Supervisor Sleeping fetched the then-highest price for a work by a living artist, £17.2m.
Freud almost never spoke to the press, cultivating an air of mystery. But those who knew him well said he could be brilliant and entertaining company, in the vein of his brother Clement, the former Liberal MP and Just a Minute star.
Lucian made no secret of his loathing for Clement - and when the younger brother died last year, the two had not spoken for 50 years. Supposedly, their enmity dated back to a boyhood race in a park in which Clement was leading, only for Lucian to call out "Stop, thief!", pipping his brother at the post as a policeman tackled him.
Speaking in 2008, Lucian said: "Why on Earth would I want to speak to [Clement] or see him again?
"I was offered a knighthood but turned it down. My younger brother has one of those. That's all that needs to be said on the matter."
The brothers shared a passionate interest in horse racing - and Lucian was as much a bon vivant as his gourmand sibling. Last night, a black table cloth covered his regular table in the Wolseley in tribute, empty but for a single candle.
It was presumably after a particularly well-enjoyed evening out that Freud had his eye blacked by a cab driver. He was almost 60 at the time.
Arriving at his studio the next morning, he dismissed his sitter for the day and set to work recording the bruise on canvas. Self-portrait with a Black Eye fetched £2.8m at auction in London in 2010.
Remembering Freud for the Guardian, Sue Tilley - the sleeping benefits supervisor - said: "Sometimes he was very chatty, sometimes he was very quiet - I always thought he should have been on the telly.
"He'd say terrible things about people, but he never saw that he was really rude. I was always a bit jealous: he did exactly as he pleased.
"He was funny, miserable, horrible, kind, mean, generous, every character trait mixed up in one person." ·
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