Lucian Freud, German-born British painter and grandson of Sigmund Freud, moved to England with his parents in 1931 and was naturalized a British subject in 1939. He began working as an artist full time when he left the Merchant Navy in 1942. Freud went on to win a prize at the Festival of Britain in 1951 with the piece, Interior at Paddington. Freud is best known for his figurative work, specifically nudes and portraiture.
His early works were painstakingly detailed and extremely well rendered. He preferred working with subjects that he knew personally. Freud is often classified a realist but the stylized intensity of his work set him apart from the typical British figurative work of post World War II. In the late 1950’s Freud’s work shifted and he adopted a broader stroke and more dramatic lighting and poses of subjects.
One of the foremost figurative artists working today, Lucian Freud (British, born Germany 1922) has redefined portraiture and the nude through his unblinking scrutiny of the human form. Although best known as a painter, etching has become integral to his practice.
Freud is not a traditional printmaker. He treats the etching plate like a canvas, standing the copper upright on an easel. He typically depicts the same sitters in etching as in painting, always working directly from his models and demarcating their forms through meticulous networks of finely etched lines. But with their figures dramatically cropped or isolated against empty backgrounds, Freud's etchings achieve a startling new sense of psychological tension and formal abstraction.