Man with a blue scarf

Man With a Blue Scarf

On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud

  1. Martin Gayford
  • ISBN 9780500289716
  • 22.90 x 15.20 cm
  • Paperback with flaps
  • 248pp
  • 63 Illustrations, 57 in colour
  • First published 2012
One of the best books about art, and the making of art, that I have ever read – Julian Barnes, The London Review of Books
'It will be read as long as Freud’s work is admired' – The Sunday Times
‘A journal, an act of confession, a character study of Freud, a piecemeal survey of art history and an investigation into the practicalities of portraiture … a book that’s not just read but relished’ – The Spectator
‘If it is Freud who dominates the book, it is Gayford’s achievement to bring him out and do so with wit and humour as well as acute intelligence … literally inimitable’ – The Guardian
‘Freud is vividly surprising, potent and dynamic … a portrait of an anarchic painter with views on everything from Leonardo’s failings to Princess Margaret’s voice’ – The Observer

See the full review in the London Review of Books

Lucian Freud, widely regarded as the greatest figurative painter of our time, spent seven months painting a portrait of the art critic Martin Gayford. The daily narrative of their encounters takes the reader into that most private place, the artist’s studio, and to the heart of the working methods of this modern master – both technical and subtly psychological.

Lucian Freud with Martin Gayford
Photo: David Dawson

Full of wry and revealing observations, this is a book not quite like any other: the inside story of how it feels to pose for a remarkable artist, and be transformed into a work of art.

From this emerges an understanding of what a portrait is, but something else is also built up: a portrait, in words, of Freud himself. This is not a biography, but a series of close-ups: the artist at work, and in conversation in restaurants, in taxis and in his studio itself. It takes one into the company of the painter for whom Picasso, Giacometti and Francis Bacon were friends and contemporaries, as were writers such as George Orwell and W. H. Auden.

The book is illustrated with many of Lucian Freud’s other works, as well as telling photographs taken by David Dawson of Freud at work, and images by such great artists of the past as Van Gogh and Titian, discussed by Freud with Gayford.

Martin Gayford is a critic, writer and curator. Among his other books are A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney, The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles and Constable in Love. In 2009 he was co-curator of the exhibition ‘Constable Portraits’ at the National Portrait Gallery, London. In the past he has been art critic of the Spectator and Sunday Telegraph and is now chief art critic for Bloomberg News.

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