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Thursday, 20 December, 2001, 15:53 GMT
Freud unveils his royal portrait
The Queen
The Queen sat for the artist over an 18-month period
British artist Lucian Freud has presented his portrait of the Queen to Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace.

The uncompromising picture shows the Queen wearing a diamond crown and depicts her in Freud's characteristic broad-brush style.

Freud's style is unmistakeable
The Queen's expression is dour and her facial features are severe.

The portrait has been described as "thought-provoking and psychologically penetrating" by the head of the National Portrait Gallery.

Mr Freud, the grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, is considered by many to be Britain's greatest living painter.

His pictures are often startlingly naturalistic images of people in a variety of poses.

Sittings

The suggestion that Freud might paint the Queen arose in conversations between the artist and the Queen's former private secretary, Sir Robert (now Lord) Fellowes, whose portrait by Freud hangs in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, in the United States.

"Normally I underplay facial expression when painting the figure, because I want expression to emerge through the body," Freud has said in an interview.

He added: "I used to do only heads, but came to feel that I relied too much on the face. I want the head, as it were, to be more like another limb."

The portrait was painted in the Royal Collection's Friary Court picture conservation studio at St James's Palace and the sittings took place between May 2000 and December 2001.

Freud requested to paint the Queen in the famous Diamond Diadem that she wears when travelling to the State Opening of Parliament, and is depicted wearing on postage stamps and bank notes.

Charles Saumarez Smith, director of National Portrait Gallery, said: "It was both sensible and adventurous for the Royal Household to commission Lucian Freud to paint The Queen to celebrate the Golden Jubilee, and the result is a thought-provoking and psychologically penetrating contribution to royal iconography."

'Celebration'

The collection's director, Sir Hugh Roberts, said: "This remarkable work by Lucian Freud is a wonderful addition to the series of royal portraits in the Royal Collection.

"It is extremely fitting that it will be displayed in the new Queen's Gallery as part of the celebration of Her Majesty's Golden Jubilee."

The painting will be first shown to the public in Royal Treasures: A Golden Jubilee Celebration, the inaugural exhibition at the new Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, opening on 22 May 2002.

  • Lucian Freud has refused permission for the painting to be shown on websites.


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