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Based around three portraits on long-term loan, this exhibition explores Freud’s early technique

‘Visually aggressive’ and ‘uncomfortable’ is how Freud described his early approach to portraiture when he would sit very close to his subjects and stare hard.

You can feel the intensity of his gaze in the three portraits on long-term loan. Girl with Fig Leaf (1948), one of only six etchings from this period, is of his first wife, Kitty Garman, while Portrait of a Girl (1950) is of Anne Dunn with whom he started an affair. Interior Scene (1948) demonstrates the same use of meticulous detail he employed at this time.

Alongside the portraits are works from the gallery’s permanent collection such as Self-Portrait with Hyacinth in Pot (1947-48) and Unripe Tangerine (1946). There are also books of Freud’s drawings from the late 1940s and early 1950s. The themes he developed throughout his career are evident in these early works, with an emphasis on personal portraits and a fascination with texture.

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