In this etching, a girl holds a large fig leaf up, obscuring most of her face – just one wide eye stares out at us. Created in the same year as Girl with a Kitten
, it also depicts Kitty Garman, Freud’s first wife. The portraits Freud created at this time had distinctive psychological and spatial elements to them – as in Girl with a Kitten
, Kitty and the leaf dominate the frame, her stare intense and unsettling.
Girl with a Fig Leaf
Date of work
Original: Etching on paper 298 x 238 mm Tate. Purchased 1988 © 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.