Lucian Freud

NAKED GIRL WITH EGG

NAKED GIRL WITH EGG

1980/81 Lucian Freud (1922 − 2011)

On first sight, the egg included in this painting looks back to the wilfully strange Surrealist juxtapositions Lucian Freud was experimenting with forty years earlier. It makes the title sound almost like a menu, with its contents laid out as if for consumption. Their combination, however, puts appetite off its stride, and, despite the frankness of its nudity, this is not an erotic painting. To Peter Conrad, led by Freud’s portraits of pregnant women, it is expressive of Freud’s interest in the invisible processes masked by female genitalia; it “turns the body inside out and drags the mystery into daylight.”

“A naked girl lounges on a bed; beside her on a table is a dish containing a boiled egg, sliced in half. A fearfully symmetrical breakfast awaits her, looking up at us like a pair of eyes, with the two staring gobbets of yolk set in circles of globular white […] could anything in the world be more alarming than such a capsule of fertility, killed by boiling water and then cut down the middle by a knife?” [1]

The location is Freud’s studio, and these “eyes” observe us from a table that, at some point, has had excess paint wiped on it. In miniature, the table anticipates the paint-daubed apron that stands out of Painter and Model (1986-7, Astrup fearley Museum, Oslo); or rather, doesn’t. Such is the unrealistic flatness with which it mimics the texture of the palette Freud would have been holding in front of it. The wearer is the painter Celia Paul, one of his students during a period as a visiting tutor at the Slade School of Art in the late 1970s; her foot presses on a tube of paint and squeezes it out, and her hand holds a brush inches from the foot of the naked model, Angus Cook. William Feaver reports that Freud painted out the easel that originally stood in the way, [2] creating a gap that echoes that between Adam and God’s hands in Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Just like the bisected egg, or the resting painter, a creative energy has been stilled in paint for us to examine.

Importantly, given the quality of nudity in Freud, it is creation without sex, a sort of Immaculate Conception, which perhaps contributed to Feaver’s suggestion that Painter and Model “almost qualifies as an Annunciation”.[3] It is Celia Paul, here, who is the Archangel Gabriel, however.

Also in 1981, she sat alongside some of Freud’s children – also his “conceptions” – as one of the characters in Large Interior W.11 (after Watteau)(1981/3). In recasting Watteau’s Pierrot Content (1712), a tableau based on the stylised, theatrical emotion of the commedia dell’arte, Freud was making his most sustained art-historical reference to date. Robert Hughes maintains, however, that the faces – bored rather than theatrically-expressive – prove him to be “a realist to the root [painting] once again the condition of posing for an artist over a long period of time.”[4]

As in Girl with Egg, the expressions are consistent with the Freud’s belief that “the head must be just another limb.”[5] They are also consistent with an essential respect for, but pragmatism about his models’ humanity; “the painting is always done with their co-operation”, he continues. As a painter, Celia Paul afforded Freud the opportunity to paint about painting from a different angle to his portraits of Francis Bacon (1952), Frank Auerbach (1976) or himself.

Tom Overton, 2010.

[1] Peter Conrad, ‘The Naked and the Living’, The Observer, 9th June 2002.

[2] William Feaver, Lucian Freud (NY: Rizzoli, 2007), p.39.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Robert Hughes, Lucian Freud: Paintings (London: Thames & Hudson, 1987), p.24.

[5] Ibid, p.20.

  • Accession Number P4184
  • Dimensions 75 X 60.5 CM
  • Media OIL ON CANVAS

Glossary

  • 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

MY CHOICE WORKS SELECTED BY PAULA REGO FROM THE BRITISH COUNCIL COLLECTION

  • 2011
    • Portugal, Coimbra, Univesidade de Coimbra, Casa de Caldeiras
    • Portugal, Edp Foundation
    • Portugal, Cascais, Casa Das Historias

THE NAKED PORTRAIT

  • 2007
    • Scotland, Edinburgh, Scottish National Portrait Gallery

LUCIAN FREUD

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

IDEALE E REALTA. UNA STORIA DEL NUDO DAL NEOCLASSICISMO AD OGGI

  • 2004
    • Italy, Bologna, Galleria D'arte Moderna

BLAST TO FREEZE: BRITISCHE KUNST IM 20. JAHRHUNDERT

  • 2003
    • France, Toulouse, Les Abattoirs
  • 2002
    • Germany, Wolfsburg Kunstmuseum

TRAVELLING COMPANIONS: CHARDIN AND FREUD

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

LA MIRADA FUERTE PINTURA FIGURATIVE DE LONDRES

  • 2000
    • Mexico, Monterrey, Museo De Arte Contemporaneo De Monterrey
    • Mexico, Mexico City, Museo De Arte Moderno, Galeria De Exposiciones Temporales

L'ECOLE DE LONDRES DE BACON A BEVAN

  • 1998
    • France, Paris, Musee Malliol

TREASURE ISLAND

  • 1997
    • Portugal, Lisbon, Gulbenkian Foundation

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 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

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

THE PURSUIT OF THE REAL BRITISH FIGURATIVE PAINTING FROM SICKERT TO BACON

  • 1990
    • Scotland, Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
    • UK, London, Barbican Art Gallery
    • UK, Manchester, Manchester City Art Gallery

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

THE BRITISH ART SHOW 2

  • 1985
    • New Zealand, Wellington, National Art Gallery
    • Australia, Melbourne, Melbourne Royal Exhibition Building
    • Australia, Brisbane, Queensland Art Gallery
    • Australia, Art Gallery Of New South Wales
    • Australia, Perth, Art Gallery Of Western Australia

THE PROPER STUDY

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

PETER MOORES LIVERPOOL PROJECT 7 AS OF NOW

  • 1983
    • UK, Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery

LUCIAN FREUD

  • 1982
    • UK, London, Anthony D'offay
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