One of Britain's leading realist painters, Freud created compositions that often reveal the humanity of his subjects while vividly depicting their physical presence. The sitter for this picture, Leigh Bowery, was an Australian performance artist in London and one of Freud's favorite models. Ironically, although Bowery was known for his outlandish costumes and makeup, Freud recorded him here unclothed, squatting ponderously on a low, wide stool in the artist's studio. The terrain of his fleshy, mountainous back is almost sculpted by the artist's thick application of paint. In essence, this is not a traditional portrait, but a still life of skin.
New York. Acquavella Galleries. "Lucian Freud: Monumental," April 5–May 24, 2019, unnumbered cat. (p. 46).
Barbara Burn, ed. Masterpieces of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 311, ill. (color).
William S. Lieberman in "Recent Acquisitions. A Selection, 1992–1993." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 51 (Fall 1993), pp. 64–65, ill. (color).
Michael Kimmelman. "At the Met with Elizabeth Murray: Looking for the Magic in Painting." New York Times (October 21, 1994), p. C28.
Margalit Fox. "Model Behavior: Pose for Lucian Freud and who recognizes you?" New York Times (January 9, 1994), p. V4.
Kathleen Howard, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. 2nd ed. (1st ed., 1983). New York, 1994, p. 453, no. 38, ill. (color).
David Alan Mellor. Interpreting Lucian Freud. Exh. cat., Tate Britain. London, 2002, p. 35, fig. 20.
Emily Braun inPaint Made Flesh. Ed. Mark W. Scala. Exh. cat., Frist Center for the Visual Arts. Nashville, 2009, pp. 34, 118, colorpl. 19, identifies the model as Leigh Bowery.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York, 2012, p. 434, ill. (color).
Rosie Broadley. "Chronology." Lucian Freud: Painting People. London, 2012, ill. p. 31 (color, studio shot).
Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, p. 534, ill. (color), colorpl. 493.
Max Hollein. Modern and Contemporary Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2019, ill. p. 153 (color).
The Met Collection API is where all makers, creators, researchers, and dreamers can now connect to the most up-to-date data and images for more than 470,000 artworks in The Met collection. As part of The Met’s Open Access program, the data is available for unrestricted commercial and noncommercial use without permission or fee.
Lucian Freud (British (born Germany), Berlin 1922–2011 London)
We continue to research and examine historical and cultural context for objects in The Met collection. If you have comments or questions about this object record, please complete and submit this form. The Museum looks forward to receiving your comments.