CULTURE & ARTS

Lucian Freud as Father: How He Painted His 14-Year-Old Daughter Naked—and How She Reacted

A woman looks at a 1980 painting by Lucien Freud called 'Naked Portrait with Reflection' whilst on display at Christie's auct
A woman looks at a 1980 painting by Lucien Freud called 'Naked Portrait with Reflection' whilst on display at Christie's auction house in London, Monday, May 19, 2008. The painting which goes up for sale in the Post-War and Contemporary Art evening sale is expected to sell for £10 million to £15 million, US$19.5 million-$29.3 million.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

The public was fascinated by Lucian’s portraits of his sons and daughters, some of which were naked portraits. Journalists had a field day trying to explain the Freudian significance of children in their teens or early adulthood stripping bare for their father. His 14 offspring included a novelist, a Biro artist, a fashion designer, a journalist, a drugs adviser, a poet, and a sculptor. They rarely mixed, however. His four children by Suzy Boyt, a student he met at the Slade in the 1950s, and two by the writer, bohemian traveler, and gardener Bernardine Coverley, were the main exception to this rule. Some were only vaguely aware of each other’s existence even after Lucian died. Some still do not know of at least one of their half-siblings.

Over the years there were splits and spats, tight alliances and silent stand-offs, shared intimacies and dramatic events. His charm was magical, even hypnotic, and they all fell under his spell. He had a playfulness alongside the steel core of ambition. He always lived well. He may have at times been buried by debt, but he was never tight.

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