wed 21/03/2018

The private space of Lucian Freud revealed | reviews, news & interviews

The private space of Lucian Freud revealed

The private space of Lucian Freud revealed

The portraitist is portrayed in intimate photographs by his assistant, on show at Pallant House

Lucian Freud at work, from David Dawson's images of 'Working with Lucian Freud'David Dawson

Pallant House in Chichester has just inaugurated the series of Lucian Freud exhibitions this season which have have now become memorial commemorations since the artist’s death last July.  Freud’s life and studio have taken on a mythic quality, here reinforced by the photographs taken by his long-term studio assistant, David Dawson (see gallery below).

Dawson (b 1960) is a Royal College of Art-trained painter, whose first job after graduating was to work for James Kirkman, then Freud’s dealer; he metamorphosed not only into Freud’s assistant, but his most consistent model (often accompanied by his whippet Eli), friend, archivist and all-round amanuensis. Throughout, Dawson kept up his own practice too.  Dawson’s own work (now represented by Marlborough Fine Art) seems on the evidence of this small selection to fall into two parts: smoothly painted small cloud studies, the sky witnessed from his own studio windows, and  cityscapes in vibrant colour executed with a fierce impasto - expressionism on speed.

His photographs of Freud’s studio also in colour are the opposite, revelatory of the artist’s organised chaos, an extraordinary accumulation of rags, paint, brushes, ebullient plants and rickety, shabby furniture. The images are very strong: a wall treated as an amazingly encrusted palette, the painter with a fox cub on his lap held in tenacious embrace, the whippet insouciantly cocking his leg over a huge pot plant.

David Dawson: Working with Freud is at Pallant House until 20 May. There is also a show of the final release of Dawson’s photographs - Kate Moss and Freud in bed, among other subjects -  in Lucian Freud: Studio Life at Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, 38 Bury Street, London SW1 until 2 March.


  1. Lucian Freud and David Hockney, 2002
  2. Working at Night, 2005
  3. Painter's garden with Eli, 2006
  4. Lucian with fox cub, 2005
  5. David and Eli in progress, 2004
  6. David Dawson: The Vigil, 2011

All photographs courtesy of Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert. Dawson's The Vigil courtesy of Marlborough Fine Art



He did some very nice work reminds me of Jenny Saville.

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