Lucian Freud

GIRL WITH ROSES

GIRL WITH ROSES

1947/48 Lucian Freud (1922 − 2011)

Kitty, the daughter of Jacob Epstein and Kathleen Garman, reappears in Lucian Freud’s portraits over the course of five years – clutching a kitten, head under leaves or on the pillow – but from the outset Girl with Roses establishes a scale and ambition that is life-size. She and Freud married in February 1948, and in the same year, Freud spent a whole train journey with Pablo Picasso’s Weeping Woman (1937),(1) taking it down to Brighton for an exhibition. Picasso wrenches the woman’s head apart, as if viewing her from inside out, through her own tears; Freud answers this visual outburst by observing how emo¬tion manifests itself on the outside. Newly pregnant, Kitty sits stiffly, her eyes averted in a dead stare. She clutches a rose, and another lies limp in her lap. A yellow-pink breed, renamed the ‘Peace Rose’ at the end of the war, it is more than the traditional love token and, like the glimmer of Kitty’s teeth, adds a hint of menace. Titian’s fleshy Venus of Urbino (1538)(2) is recast for a cold climate of woollies and rations.

Kitty’s grip on the rose is matched by Freud’s grip on the brush. Lawrence Gowing infers a kind of passive purity in Freud’s early style – the linearity, thin application of paint and cool palette – and applauds its ‘homogenous, even legibility and a sea-washed cleanliness’, yet here the subject’s vitality is picked out with needling precision.(3) From the stray curls across the forehead to the tweezered eyebrows, the reflection of a sash window in each eye, the frayed cane of the chair and the birth¬mark on the raised hand, ultimately the ‘girl’ of the title becomes Kitty in the definite article. Freud explains, ‘I was trying for accuracy of a sort. I didn’t think of it as detail. It was simply, through my concentration, a question of focus. I always felt that detail – where one was conscious of detail – was detrimental.’(4)

Girl with Roses is as much a love portrait of Freud’s painter heroes as of Kitty. It unfolds from the rose at its centre, a nod to the straight¬forward flower paintings of Cedric Morris, under whom Freud studied at the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing (1939–42). Petals rebound in the pale twist of Kitty’s lips, the bloom of her skirt, and finally the ochre folds in the background, which call to mind Jean Dominique Ingres. Freud admits, ‘You get really excited about an Ingres fold in a curtain because you don’t think that so much can be said in such an incisive and economical way.’(5) Indeed, the ‘Ingres of existentialism’ (Herbert Read’s tag) invokes the great dress of Madame Moitessier (1856)(6) with Kitty’s sweater. Its ribbed neck and cuffs and gently contoured stripes (black stippling was a tip from advertising, to make the green buzz) are defined incisively and economically – an understanding of fabric perhaps aided by a commission to create designs for dress fabrics for Asher (London) Ltd in 1946. In a statement published in Encounter to coincide with his selection for the XXVII Venice Biennale (1954), Freud explains, ‘The effect in space of two different human individuals can be as different as the effect of a candle and an electric light bulb. Therefore the painter must be concerned with the air surrounding his subject as with the subject itself.’(7) So, Kitty is viewed in prickly proximity, a halo of individual hairs reach out from her head, nervy with static.

DF

1. Tate Collection, London.
2. Uffizi, Florence.
3. Lawrence Gowing, Lucian Freud (London: Thames & Hudson, 1982), 81.
4. William Feaver, ‘Beyond Feeling’, Freud in conversation with Feaver, in Lucian Freud, exh. cat. (Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1992), 12.
5. Freud quoted in William Feaver, Lucian Freud (New York: Rizzoli, 2007), 321.
6. The National Gallery, London.
7. Lucian Freud, ‘Some thoughts on painting’, Encounter, 3/1 (July 1954), 23–24.

Published in Passports British Council Collection, British Council, London 2009

  • Accession Number P79
  • Dimensions 106 X 75.6 CM
  • Media OIL ON CANVAS

Glossary (2)

  • Drawing

    The depiction of shapes and forms on a flat surface chiefly by means of lines although colour and shading may also be included. Materials most commonly used are pencil, ink, crayon, charcoal, chalk and pastel, although other materials, including paint, can be used in combination.

  • Painting

    Work of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is a tightly stretched piece of canvas, paper or a wooden panel. Painting involves a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's intellectual concerns effecting the content of a work.

Work Theme

Past exhibitions

LUCIAN FREUD: CORPOS E ROSTOS - DRAWINGS & PAINTINGS BY LUCIAN FREUD WITH PHOTOGRAPHS BY DAVID DAWSON.

  • 2013
    • Brazil, Sao Paulo, MASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand

LUCIAN FREUD PORTRAITS

  • 2012
    • USA, Fort Worth, Museum Of Modern Art
    • UK, London, National Portrait Gallery

LET US FACE THE FUTURE: ART BRITÀNIC 1945-1968

  • 2010
    • Spain, Barcelona, Fundacio Joan Miro

PASSPORTS. IN VIAGGIO CON L'ARTE

  • 2009
    • Italy, Milan, Padglione D'arte Contemporanea

PASSPORTS: GREAT EARLY BUYS FROM THE BRITISH COUNCIL COLLECTION

  • 2009
    • UK, London, Whitechapel Art Gallery

BRITISH VISION OBSERVATION AND IMAGINATION IN BRITISH ART 1750-1950

  • 2007
    • Belgium, Ghent, Museum Voor Schone Kunsten

LUCIAN FREUD

  • 2008
    • Netherlands, The Hague, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
  • 2007
    • Denmark, Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum Of Modern Art
    • Ireland, Dublin, Irish Museum Of Modern Art

THE MIRROR AND THE MASK THE PORTRAIT IN THE AGE OF PICASSO

  • 2007
    • USA, Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum
    • Spain, Madrid, Fundacion Coleccion Thyssen-Bornemisza

LUCIAN FREUD

  • 2005
    • Italy, Venice, Museo Correr

LUCIAN FREUD

  • 2003
    • USA, Los Angeles, Museum Of Contemporary Art
  • 2002
    • Spain, Barcelona, Fundacio La Caixa
    • UK, London, Tate Britain

TRAVELLING COMPANIONS: CHARDIN AND FREUD

  • 2001
    • UK, Ipswich, Wolsey Art Gallery, Christchurch Mansions

L'ECOLE DE LONDRES DE BACON A BEVAN

  • 1998
    • France, Paris, Musee Malliol

LUCIAN FREUD PAINTINGS AND ETCHINGS

  • 1996
    • UK, Kendal, Abbot Hall Art Gallery

FROM LONDON

  • 1996
    • Spain, Barcelona, Fundacio Caixa De Catalunya, La Padrera
  • 1995
    • Switzerland, Lausanne, Musee Cantonal Des Beaux Arts
    • Belgium, Luxembourg, Musee National D'histoire Et D'art
    • Scotland, Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art

REALITES NOIRES

  • 1994
    • France, St Etienne, Musee D'art Moderne

LUCIAN FREUD: RECENT WORK

  • 1994
    • Spain, Madrid, Museo Nacional Centre De Arte Reina Sofia
  • 1993
    • USA, New York, Metropolitan Museum Of Art
    • UK, London, Whitechapel Art Gallery

LUCIAN FREUD PAINTINGS & WORKS ON PAPER 1940-1991

  • 1993
    • Australia, Perth, Art Gallery Of Western Australia
  • 1992
    • Australia, Art Gallery Of New South Wales
    • Japan, Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum
    • Japan, Nishinomiya, Otani Memorial Art Museum
    • Japan, Tochigi, Tochigi Prefectural Museum Of Fine Arts

LUCIAN FREUD

  • 1994
    • Spain, Madrid, Centro De Arte Reina Sofia
  • 1993
    • Australia, Perth, Art Gallery Of Western Australia
  • 1992
    • Australia, Art Gallery Of New South Wales
    • Japan, Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum
    • Japan, Nishinomiya, Otani Memorial Art Museum
    • Japan, Tochigi, Tochigi Prefectural Museum Of Fine Arts

FOR A WIDER WORLD

  • 1991
    • Argentina, Buenos Aires, Museo Nacional De Bellas Artes
    • Bulgaria, Sofia, Cyril Methodius Foundation
    • Belgium, Luxembourg, Musee National D'histoire Et D'art
  • 1990
    • Ussr, Kiev, Ukrainian Museum Of Fine Art

100 YEARS OF ART IN BRITAIN

  • 1988
    • UK, Leeds, Leeds City Art Gallery

LUCIAN FREUD

  • 1988
    • Scotland, Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art

LUCIAN FREUD PAINTINGS

  • 1988
    • Germany, Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie
    • UK, London, Hayward Gallery
  • 1987
    • France, Paris, Musee D'art Moderne De La Ville De Paris
    • USA, Washington, Hirschhorn Museum

BRITISH ART IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY THE MODERN MOVEMENT

  • 1987
    • UK, London, Royal Academy Of Arts

ARTIST AND MODEL

  • 1986
    • UK, Manchester, Whitworth Art Gallery

THE PROPER STUDY

  • 1985
    • India, Mumbai, NCPA
  • 1984
    • India, New Delhi, Lalit Kala Akademi

XL VENICE BIENNALE, INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION

  • 1982
    • Italy, Venice, Venice Biennale Main Pavilion

JUBILEE EXHIBITION

  • 1980
    • Norway, Oslo, Kunstnernes Hus

20TH CENTURY PORTRAITS

  • 1978
    • UK, London, National Portrait Gallery

SIX PAINTINGS FROM THE BRITISH COUNCIL COLLECTION

  • 1977
    • Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Cultural Centre
    • New Zealand, New Plymouth, New Plymouth Art Gallery
    • New Zealand, Auckland, Aukland City Art Gallery
  • 1976
    • India, Bombay, National Centre For The Performing Arts
    • India, New Delhi, National Gallery Of Modern Art

BRITISH PORTRAITS

  • 1975
    • Japan, Tokyo, National Museum Of Western Art

DECADE 40'S

  • 1973
    • Scotland, Aberdeen, Aberdeen Art Gallery And Museum
    • UK, Bradford, Bradford City Art Gallery
    • UK, Manchester, Manchester City Art Gallery
    • UK, Durham, DLI Museum & Art Centre
    • UK, Carlisle, Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery
  • 1972
    • UK, Southampton, Southampton City Art Gallery
    • UK, London, Whitechapel Art Gallery

BRITISH PAINTINGS 1945-1970

  • 1972
    • Poland, Krakow, Museum Narodowe
    • Poland, Poznan, Museum Narodowe
    • Poland, Warsaw, Museum Narodwe Warszawie
    • Norway, Bergen, Kunstforeningen
    • Norway, Trondheim, Kunstforening
    • Norway, Oslo, Kunstnerforbundet

CONTEMPORARY BRITISH PAINTING 1900-1962

  • 1964
    • Romania, Palace Of Culture
    • Romania, Bucharest, National Gallery
    • Slovakia, Bratislava, Mirbach Palace & Palffy Palace
    • Czechoslovakia, Prague, ULUV Exhibition Hall
  • 1963
    • Hungary, Budapest, Ernst Museum

JELENKORI BRIT FESTESZET

  • 1963
    • Hungary, Budapest, Ernst Museum

BRITISH PAINTING 1720-1960

  • 1960
    • Russia, St Petersburg, The Hermitage
    • Russia, Moscow, Pushkin Museum Of Fine Arts

6TH SPRING EXHIBITION

  • 1957
    • UK, Bradford, Bradford City Art Gallery

BRITISH ART 1900-1955

  • 1956
    • Norway, Oslo, Kunstnernes Hus
    • Denmark, Copenhagen, Kunstforeningen

YOUNG BRITISH PAINTERS

  • 1955
    • UK, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum

XXVII VENICE BIENNALE

  • 1954
    • Italy, Venice, British Pavilion

RECENT TRENDS IN REALIST PAINTING

  • 1952
    • UK, London, ICA

SLADE SCHOOL EXHIBITION

  • 1952
    • UK, London, Slade School

1951 SAO PAULO BIENAL

  • 1951
    • Brazil, Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo Bienal

BRITISH PAINTING 1925-1950: FIRST ANTHOLOGY

  • 1951
    • UK, Manchester, Manchester City Art Gallery
    • UK, London, New Burlington Galleries

CONTEMPORARY BRITISH PAINTING AND SCULPTURE 1925-1950

  • 1950
    • USA, Pennsylvania, Academy Of Fine Arts
JavaScript is disabled in your browser. This will degrade or remove some of the website's functionality. Try enabling JavaScript. JavaScript is disabled in your browser. This will degrade or remove some of the website's functionality. Try enabling JavaScript.