Lucian Freud described Two Plants
as ‘lots of little portraits of leaves’. Just like many of his portraits of human subjects, this piece was painted over a long time, with meticulous precision. Started in 1977, it wasn’t finished until 1980, during which time the plants underwent many changes, which Freud captures in the painting. The top plant has been identified as Helichrysum petiolarum DC, and the plant at the bottom is Aspidistra elatior Bl.
Date of work
Original: Oil paint on canvas 1499 x 1200 mm Tate. Purchased 1980 © 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.