It’s a cold, wet day in London. November temperatures have dipped lower than expected and one has had to fortify oneself with several layers against the strong winds. Inside the high vaulted halls of the National Gallery, however, there are images of naked bodies on display—and how can there not be? After all, the gallery is celebrating Lucian Freud’s birth centenary.
The exhibition New Perspectives brings together 63 paintings, created over seven decades, that include works such as the familiar portrait (2000-01) of the late Queen Elizabeth II. It’s surprisingly small, unflattering, with a slightly squinty eye and a 5 o’clock shadow on her chin and upper lip, yet it’s intense. He made someone sit in for the queen, borrowing her tiara so he could paint it, and he made it sparkle with the radiance of real diamonds. There’s also the eerie Girl With A Kitten (1947), featuring his first wife Kitty Garman, and Hotel Bedroom (1954)—a portrait of his marriage with Guinness heiress Caroline Blackwood, Reflection With Two Children (1965), a self-portrait, and Girl With Roses (1947-48), featuring Garman with enlarged eyes.