For this piece, Lucian Freud painted the artist Celia Paul. Paul and Freud became lovers when she was a student at the Slade School of Art, and Freud was a visiting tutor. During the years that this piece was painted, Paul became pregnant by Freud and gave birth to her son, the artist Frank Paul. Although theirs was a complex relationship, Celia Paul noted that Freud was ‘very caring’ during her pregnancy, and this painting has a feeling of intimacy and tenderness, enhanced by its focus on the head and shoulders of the figure and her nightshirt.
Girl in a Striped Nightshirt
Date of work
Original: Oil paint on canvas 430 x 380 x 60 mm Tate. Presented by Mercedes and Ian Stoutzker 2013 and forming partof the Mercedes and Ian Stoutzker Gift to Tate © The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Images
Lucian Michael Freud (1922 – 2011) was a British painter and draftsman, and is considered one of the foremost 20th-century portraitists. Although his early work contained surrealist elements, he is best known for his figurative paintings more heavily influenced by realism and intense observation. Most of his models were friends and family members, and this relationship between artist and model, often unsettling or uncomfortable, is a central theme to his work. His reputation for demanding schedules for these models was well established, with one painting taking approximately 2,400 hours to complete and requiring the model to attend all but four evenings of that time.