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Woman’s Head with Yellow Background

Lucian Freud
1963

Lucian Freud was an internationally renowned British artist prior to his death in 2011 and this painting reflects the nationally important aspects of Rochdale’s art collection. 

In the 1940s he was principally interested in drawing, especially the face. He experimented with Surrealism and was also loosely associated with Neo-Romanticism. However, he established his own artistic identity in meticulously executed realist works, imbued with a pervasive mood of alienation.

Freud’s paintings from the early 1960s mark a radical departure from his previous more realistic style. He started to use a broader brush with a denser application of paint creating greater visual movement. Throughout his career Freud’s palette remained distinctly muted.

A close relationship with sitters was often important for Freud and his portraits reflect their personality and presence. The sitter in this painting featured in at least two others from the time. His mother sat for an extensive series in the early 1970s after she was widowed, and his daughters Bella and Esther also modelled for him.

The painting was exhibited in China in 2012/13 as part of GMMG’s touring exhibition ‘Towards Modernity: Three Centuries of British Art’.