A Portrait of Lucian Freud
A hidden look at Lucian Freud, one of the greatest British painters, through the lens of his assistant
For nearly twenty years David Dawson was Lucian Freud's assistant, companion and model. Freud was famously private. He carefully avoided distraction. With few exceptions, he only wanted those he knew well, like the late Bruce Bernard, to photograph him. David Dawson was in a unique position and Freud became comfortable in the presence of his camera. Photographing became part of the daily round of the studio. The results revealed many stages of paintings in progress. Few artists, if any, have had their lives and their work recorded over such a length of time.
Among those who regularly visited Freud were figures from the art world, including John Richardson, David Hockney and Frank Auerbach, along with a flow of models and friends. He was as happy in the company of Kate Moss as he was with the Duke of Beaufort. Despite his sense of privacy, Freud's circle was wide.
The book begins in Freud's old studio in Holland Park and then records the artist in his eighteenth-century house, the first floor of which was his final studio. It ends with views of the rooms in which Freud's own extraordinary collection of paintings was hung. It is the only record of the house before the dispersal of the art on his death.
Ultimately David Dawson's photographs create an intimate portrait of the man. The final images are of the hanging of Freud's work in his posthumous London exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.
“The beauty of [Dawson’s] images is not in the immaculate execution but in the minute details of Freud’s private life that they uncover… As much a celebration of friendship as it is of the great artist.”
“A volume that offers an intimate view of the artist’s life and work.”
“As beautiful as it is revealing.”
“Dawson, Freud’s assistant and a painter himself, has the artist’s eye for a beautiful and telling image.”
Martin Gayford, Spectator
“It’s on my Christmas present list!”
Christine Bridger, Four Shires
“Beautiful and moving, this album is an artwork in itself.”
“An extraordinary photographic record of the 20 years Dawson spent as Freud’s loyal assistant.”
Mail on Sunday
“[Dawson’s] shots of the artist…are beautifully constructed, full of deep saturations.”
Charles Darwent, Literary Review