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Lucian Freud

After Cézanne


Lucian Freud After Cézanne 1999-2000. Oil on canvas, 214.0 x 215.0 cm (irregular). National Gallery of Australia. Purchased with the assistance of Members of the National Gallery of Australia Foundation, including David Coe, Harold Mitchell AO, Bevelly Mitchell, John Schaeffer and Kerry Stokes AO 2001 more detail


Lucian Freud’s After Cézanne is a paraphrase or variation on the theme of Paul Cézanne’s Afternoon in Naples. The few paraphrase paintings in Freud’s output represent in-depth examinations of the work of certain great artists with whom he wishes to enter into dialogue. Although After Cézanne is related to Afternoon in Naples, Freud said the pictures are more akin to ‘cousins’. They differ in their scale and painterly treatment and in the emphasis placed on figures and objects. Freud’s painting is a very contemporary one, in which he explores issues of dependence and independence, sexual engagement and ambivalence, alienation and loneliness.

Freud operates a system of ‘day pictures’ and ‘night pictures’, depending on when the models are available to sit for him and whether there is daylight or artificial light. After Cézanne was Freud’s principal ‘day picture’ which he painted in nine months from December 1999 to August 2000.

Freud worked the painting out on the canvas, first in charcoal and then in paint. He initially had a large rectangular canvas, but added a small section to accommodate the upper half of the maid servant’s figure.

Freud is considered the foremost figurative painter working in the European tradition in the last half century. He lives and works in London. Born in Berlin in 1922, his father was the youngest son of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. He moved to England with his family in 1933 and became a naturalised British citizen in 1939.