Entertainment & Arts

Lucian Freud unseen archive acquired for the nation

Lucian Freud drawing and self portrait Image copyright The Lucian Freud Archive/Bridgeman Images
Image caption The gallery said the archive drawings (left) will help add context to the two Freud works in its collection, including this self portrait (right)

An archive of sketchbooks, drawings and letters belonging to artist Lucian Freud has been acquired by the nation through the acceptance in lieu scheme.

The collection has been allocated to the National Portrait Gallery, which hosted a record-breaking Lucian Freud Portraits exhibition in 2012.

Some of the items, never published or exhibited before, are expected to go on display there next summer.

The sketchbooks span his career from the mid 1940s until his death in 2011.

"This rare collection of Lucian Freud drawings and letters provides a fascinating glimpse into the work of one of our most pioneering artists," said Culture Minister Ed Vaizey.

"Bringing these never seen before treasures into public collections means that everyone can enjoy and see the early beginnings that shaped his most celebrated work."

The archive includes studies for many of the artist's major works as well as a collection of 162 childhood drawings depicting family life. They were made while Freud was living in Germany, before his family fled to England in 1933 as Hitler came to power, and saved and dated by his mother.

'Important gift'

The National Portrait Gallery said the archive would "give added context" to the two works housed in the gallery's collection - a self-portrait in oils and a charcoal drawing of Lord Goodman from 1985.

Several drawings in the sketchbooks show the beginnings of portraits, including Lord Goodman's, starting with the nose and eyes and developing outwards.

Also included are Freud's early designs of book covers including one for his daughter, Esther Freud's 1992 novel Hideous Kinky and Nigel Dennis's Cards of Identity from 1955.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, director of the National Portrait Gallery in London, said the archive material was a "very important, extensive and generous gift to the nation" that would be "a vital source of reference".

The 47 sketchbooks together with drawings and letters settle a bill of £2,940,000 of inheritance tax from the Lucian Freud Estate, under the inheritance in lieu scheme.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, chair of Arts Council England, added the collection offered "a real insight into the life of one of Britain's most compelling and influential artists".

Related Topics

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites