Lucian Michael Freud (1922-2011) was born in Berlin on 8 December 1922. He was the second son of Ernst Ludwig Freud (1892-1970), the youngest son of Sigmund Freud, and his wife Lucie, nee Brasch (1896-1989), the daughter of a wealthy grain merchant Joseph Brasch. Ernst Freud fought in the First World War as an artillery officer in the Austro-Hungarian army. Ernst and Lucie met at Munich University, Ernst was completing his architectural training and Lucie was a classics graduate. They married in 1920 and bought a large apartment in a fashionable Berlin suburb. Ernst and Lucie Freud had two other sons Stefan (b. 1921), who was frequently referred to by the family as Gabi in reference to his middle name Gabriel, and Clement (1924-2009), who was known by the family as Clemens or Cle.
In 1931 Freud began school at the Derfflingerstrasse Volksschule before briefly attending the Französisches Gymnasium. In 1933 after the accession of Hitler to the German chancellorship Ernst and Lucie Freud decided to move their family to Britain, Lucian Freud always stressed the family were émigrés not refugees. Ernst Freud enrolled his sons at Dartington Hall, a liberal boarding school, in Devon. With lessons largely optional Freud spent a lot of time helping with the animals on the school farm. He stayed there for two and a half years before briefly attending Dane Court preparatory school, and then Bryanston School where he joined the Oil Painting Club.
Ernst Freud assisted his father and family in emigrating to Britain in 1938. Sigmund Freud died a year later, bequeathing his book royalties to his grandchildren, this would prove to be a regular income for Lucian Freud. In 1939 Ernst and Lucie Freud together with their children became British citizens.
Lucian Freud on leaving Bryanston attended the Central School of Arts and Crafts for one term, he left it for the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing run by Cedric Morris and Arthur Lett-Haines. In Autumn 1939 Freud spent two months in Capel Curig, north Wales, with fellow student David Kentish, later being joined by the poet and novelist Stephen Spender. A self portrait by Freud during his time in Wales was published in 'Horizon', the literary magazine founded by Spender and Cyril Connolly with financial backing provided by Peter Watson, who assisted Freud in several ways over the subsequent years.
Hoping to get to New York Freud joined an Atlantic convoy as an ordinary seaman, he sailed for Halifax abroad the SS Baltrover in March 1941. He did not reach New York and was classified unsuitable for military service on his return. Watson arranged for Freud to use rooms in Maida Vale as a studio with fellow artist John Craxton; the pair attracted the attention of Kenneth Clark and Graham Sutherland, the later of whom introduced Freud to Francis Bacon in 1945 instigating a friendship which would endure until the mid 1970s.
Freud's first one-man show was held at the Alex Reid and Lefevre Gallery in Nov 1944, where he exhibited 'The Painter's Room', which featured a zebra head his lover Lorna Wishart (1911-2000) had given him. Moving to Delamere Terrace in Paddington his works included portraits of Wishart which were his first successes of true portraiture. The affair with Wishart ended shortly after. The summer of 1946 saw Freud meet Picasso and Giacometti in Paris he later joined Craxton in Greece, where he produced two self-portraits. Returning to Britain in 1947 Freud and Craxton exhibited at the London Gallery.
Freud painted a series of portraits of Wishart's niece Kitty Garman (1926-2011), the daughter of Jacob Epstein and Kathleen Garman, they married in July 1948 with a daughter Annie being born not long after. Ernst Freud had found them a house in St John's Wood, an area many of the Freud family lived in. Despite a second daughter, Annabel, being born in 1952 Freud's marriage ended shortly after with Freud spending time in Paris, Dublin and Soho as well as continuing to use Delamere Terrace as his working base. 'Interior in Paddington' (1951) won a prize at the Festival Britain and throughout the 1950s he continued to exhibit, between 1948-1958 he had the role of visiting tutor at the Slade School of Art. Following his divorce he married Lady Caroline Blackwood (1931-1996) in 1953, in 1954 he painted her in 'Hotel Bedroom'. Blackwood divorced Freud in 1958. More children were born to Freud between the late 1950s to the 1980s.
Freud painted slowly and portraits involved numerous sittings, he preferred painting those who had the time to sit. When pressed for money he would approach eminent figures to sit for him, these included the Duke of Devonshire ('Portrait of a Man, 1971-2) and Jacob Rothschild ('Man in a Chair', 1989). The 1970s saw Freud begin to paint and draw his mother, Lucie Freud had always been devoted to Lucian and she proved to be a willing and patient sitter. Freud last drew her the day after she died.
Freud had been represented by Marlborough Fine Art, he left them in 1972 along with the dealer James Kirkman who would represent Freud for over 20 years. Kirkman arranged for Freud to be exhibited at the Anthony d'Offay Gallery in 1972, 1978 and 1982. In 1974 the Arts Council staged a retrospective at the Hayward Gallery, where portraits of Lucie Freud, Frank Auerbach and Freud's bookmaker Alfie Maclean were included.
In 1977 Freud moved into a top-floor flat in Holland Park, it was here he painted Large Interior W11 (after Watteau) between 1981 and 1983. The British Council organised Freud's first international retrospective in 1987-8, opening in Washington DC at the Hirshhorn Museum it travelled to London, Paris and Berlin bringing Freud acclaim. Freud bought a house on Kensington Church Street in the late 1980s, he kept the flat in Holland Park but gradually began to work more on the first floor of his new home. He resumed etching in 1980, this proved to be a handy means of instant money in the time between sales of paintings and big wins at the bookmakers.
Freud parted with Kirkman in 1992, he was subsequently represented by William Acquavella of Acquavella Galleries, New York. During the 1990s Sue Tilley, a manager of a Department of Health and Social Security office, began sitting for Freud, in 2008 Freud's portrait 'Benefits Supervisor Sleeping' (1995) sold for £17.2 million. The 1990s and 2000s saw Freud regularly exhibit in public galleries and in 2002 he helped chose works for a John Constable exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris.
Freud was grateful to Britain as the country that had welcomed him as a child and accepted honours from the state. He was appointed CH in 1983 and OM in 1993. He painted the Queen in 2001, the work being given by him to the royal collections. Freud died of cancer in 2011, at the time of his death the National Portrait Gallery had been working closely with him on an exhibition of his portraiture. 'Lucian Freud Portraits' staged in 2012 became his memorial exhibition.
Please note this biography was based on William Feaver, "Freud, Lucian Michael (1922-2011)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, online edn, Jan 2015 [https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/103935, accessed 29 Aug 2018]