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Lucian Freud: Plant Portraits

The undisputed master of the modern nude, Lucian Freud was also a prolific painter of plants. This exhibition will show how integral plants were to Freud’s work, exploring his ability to capture their elusive essence in original ways while giving them the same life as his human subjects.

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Still Life with Zimmerlinde, c.1950 Freud,Lucian Private Collection, Photo © Christie's Images© The Lucian Freud Archive, Bridgeman Images

Still Life with Zimmerlinde, c.1950 Freud, Lucian (1922-2011) Credit: Private Collection. Photo © Christie's Images/© The Lucian Freud Archive. All Rights Reserved 2022/Bridgeman Images.

Lucian Freud: Plant Portraits will bring together a selection of rarely or never-before-seen paintings and etchings of potted plants and gardens, and will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the artist’s birth (8 December 1922).

Freud was not a gardener but had a close and respectful relationship with plants, from rarely-seen drawings from his childhood in Berlin to his garden in Notting Hill, and the straggly potted plants that followed him from home to home throughout his life. The exhibition also explores why, and when, he chose to paint plants, and not people.

Explore films, articles and more in our Lucian Freud: Plant Portraits online exhibition.

Explore more films in the Online Exhibition

Small Fern, 1967 (oil on canvas) Freud, Lucian, Private Collection. This image is reproduced with kind permission of His Majesty The King; Cyclamen, 1964 (oil on canvas) Freud, Lucian, Private Collection, both images © The Lucian Freud Archive, Bridgeman Images

In Freud’s plant paintings yellowed leaves, blemishes, and tears are celebrated, distinctive traits demarcating the true identity of individual plants: and unique portraits capturing a history of shared growth entwining artist and plant.

Lucian Freud: Plant Portraits is curated by art historian and author of Lucian Freud Herbarium, Giovanni Aloi.

Header image – Two Plants, 1977-80 (oil on canvas) by Lucian Freud; Tate Modern, London © The Lucian Freud Archive. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images