Lucian Freud Biography

(British Painter Who was One of the Foremost 20th-Century English Portraitists)

Birthday: December 8, 1922 (Sagittarius)

Born In: Berlin, Germany

Known for his eccentric demeanor and realistic impasto paintings, Lucian Freud was an artist par excellence having created several master pieces over a six-decade career. He is considered to be one of the pioneers amongst the figurative portraitists of the twentieth century. During a time when abstract art was dominating, Lucian had chosen the conventional route, although there was nothing conventional about his methods. He was infamous for making his sitters, about 168 of his friends and family members, go through some long grueling sessions for his paintings. Few of his models have compared the intensity of his focus, over the course of his paintings, to that of his grandfather, Sigmund Freud’s while he psychoanalyzed his subjects. Lucian’s subjects included Queen Elizabeth II, Martin Grayford, Kate Moss, and David Hockney amongst others; his surreal neo-figurative style inspiring several artists like Eric Fischl, Jenny Saville, Damien Hirst and John Currin. His private life littered with numerous affairs and a gambling addiction, lent an aura of realism to his work. His self-portraits and nudes painted with a thick laden brush splashing hues of browns and beiges across canvases, adorn the walls of London’s Tate Gallery, Washington’s National Gallery of Art, Now York’s Museum of Modern Art, and Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum to name a few

Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In December

Also Known As: Lucian Michael Freud

Died At Age: 88


Spouse/Ex-: Kitty Garman (m. 1948–1952), Lady Caroline Blackwood (m. 1953–1959)

father: Ernst L. Freud

mother: Lucie Freud

siblings: Clement Freud, Stephan Gabriel Freud

children: Alexander Boyt, Annabel Freud, Annie Freud, Bella Freud, David McAdam Freud, Esther Freud, Francis Michael Eliot, Frank Paul, Isobel Boyt, Jane McAdam Freud, Lucy Freud, Noah Woodman, Paul Freud, Rose Boyt, Susie Boyt

Born Country: Germany

Artists Illustrators

Died on: July 20, 2011

place of death: London, England, United Kingdom

Ancestry: Austrian German

Notable Alumni: Central School Of Art And Design

City: Berlin, Germany

More Facts

education: University Of London, Central School Of Art And Design

awards: Order of the Companions of Honour

Childhood & Early Life

Lucian Michael Freud was born on the 8 December 1922, to architect Ernst Freud who was an Austrian Jew and Lucie Brasch who was a German Jew. His mother named him Lucian as she was quite fond of Syrian rhetorician and satirist Lucian of Samosata

He was the grandson of neurologist and psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, and had two brothers Stephan Gabriel Freud, Clement Freud (Esther was his daughter)1

He emigrated to London with his family when he was 11-years old and became a British citizen in the year 1939.

Due to his unruly behavior, Lucian Freud had to shift many schools. He attended Dartington Hall in Devon, Bryanston School in Dorset, London’s Central School of Art and East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in Dedham.

He also studied in London University’s Goldsmiths College from 1942 to 194,3 after serving as a seaman in 1941.

Continue Reading Below

Lucian Freud worked on a commission to illustrate The Glass Tower that was a book of poems written by Nicholas Moore in 1943 before travelling to Paris, Greece and Dublin.

His debut solo exhibition was displayed at London’s Lefevre Gallery in 1944, where he presented paintings like The Painter’s Room.

From 1949 to 1954, Lucian Freud tutored at London University’s Slade School of Fine Art, while still honing his skills and finding his unique style.

Even though his style evolved, his initial work still reflected a sense of realism and maturity that brought immense depth to his work. The paintings showed his love for animals, and his intimate relationship with his human subjects such as his mother, wives, mistresses, children and friends.

In late 1950s, Lucian Freud started working on all his paintings standing up. He continued doing so for a long time, till old age compelled him to start using a high chair.

Having a distinct regard for lighting, he never mixed natural and artificial lights in his portraits. His paintings can be clearly identified as day paintings and night paintings.

Few of his popular paintings are Cedric Morris (1940), Girl with a Kitten (1947), Portrait of Kitty (1949), Girl with a White Dog (1952), Hotel Bedroom (1954), Naked Man With Rat (1978), Reflection (1985), Annabel Sleeping (1988), Benefits Supervisor Sleeping (1995), Sleeping by the Lion Carpet (1996), After Cézanne (2000), Queen Elizabeth II (2001), and The Brigadier (2004).

Major Works

Girl with a White Dog, painted by Lucian in between 1951 and 1952 is considered one of his major works. Currently displayed at Tate, this is a portrait of his wife Kitty with their pet. It was a transitional phase for him as he was developing a freer style of strokes and using thicker paints.

Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, a 1995 portrait of British artist Sue Tilley earned the world record for fetching the highest auction price by any living artist, when it was sold for a whopping 33.6 million dollars by Christie’s.

Continue Reading Below
Awards & Achievements

In 1983, Lucian Freud was appointed Companion of Honour for his lifelong contribution to arts.

He is considered to be one of the best British artists, with his paintings on display at museums and galleries around the world. He was nominated for the prestigious Turner prize in 1989.

His notable works of art earned him the Order of Merit in 1993, and he received Siegen city’s Rubens Prize in the year 1997.

Family & Personal Life

Lucian Freud had a flamboyant personal life and is suspected to have fathered about forty children. He had an affair with Lorna Cecilia Garman while she was married to Ernest Wishart, and she posed for many of his paintings.

He married Lorna’s niece ‘Kitty’ Kathleen Eleonora Garman in the year 1948 and they had a turbulent relationship that ended in divorce in 1952 due to Lucian’s recurrent womanizing.

The couple had two daughters; Annie born in 1948, and Annabel born in 1952.

After Kitty left him, Lucian Freud eloped to Paris with writer and heiress of the Guinness brewery, Lady Caroline Blackwood. They tied the knot in 1953, but the marriage ended in 1959.

Although he continued to have innumerous affairs and mistresses, Lucian Freud did not marry after his second divorce.

He succumbed to a brief span of illness at the age of 88, on 20th July 2011, in his home in London, and was buried in the Highgate Cemetery.


Lucian Freud was part of a group known as the ‘School of London’, which included renowned figurative artists like Reginald Gray, Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon, R.B. Kitaj, Michael Andrews to name a few.

See the events in life of Lucian Freud in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Lucian Freud Biography
- Editors,

People Also Viewed

David Hockney Biography
David Hockney
Damien Hirst Biography
Damien Hirst
Lalla Ward Biography
Lalla Ward
Tracey Emin Biography
Tracey Emin
Jwan Yosef Biography
Jwan Yosef
(British, Swedish)
Justine Frischmann Biography
Justine Frischmann
Derren Brown Biography
Derren Brown
Neil Harbisson Biography
Neil Harbisson
(American, British, Irish)