Lucian Freud dies aged 88

Lucian Freud, one of Britain’s greatest and most controversial painters of his era, has sadly passed away at the age of 88 at his London home.

The notoriously witty, realist painter, best known for his intense nude portraits, had seen the value of his works soar in recent years. His portrait of Sue Tilley – Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, sold at auction in 2008 for £17m ($33m), a record price for the work of a living artist.

Freud spent a great deal of time with his subjects and demanded the model’s presence even while working on subsidiary elements. A nude completed in 2007 required sixteen months of work, with the model posing all but four evenings during that time; with each session averaging five hours, the painting took approximately 2,400 hours to complete.

Lucian Freud's Kate Moss

A rapport with his models was essential and while at work, Freud was characterised as “an outstanding raconteur and mimic”. Regarding the difficulty in deciding when a painting is completed, Freud said that “he feels he’s finished when he gets the impression he’s working on somebody else’s painting”.

Freud had the pulling-power of Hugh Hefner, but classier, with his conquests speaking of his intense sexual charisma. A model of his once said: “it felt like being an apple in the Garden of Eden… when it was over, I felt as if I had been cast out of paradise”.

Freud spent most of his working life in London and was frequently seen at play in some of the most salubrious bars and restaurants, often in the company of beautiful young women half his age. He famously spent a lot of his time in the company of British supermodel Kate Moss, who he once painted naked in Naked Portrait 2002, when she was pregnant with her first child.

Lucian Freud

The Tate’s director, Nicholas Serota, said last night: “The vitality of [Freud’s] nudes, the intensity of the still life paintings and the presence of his portraits of family and friends guarantee Lucian Freud a unique place in the pantheon of late 20th century art.”

The greatest British painter of the modern era

A true great of the British art world, Freud’s memory will live on in the stories of his friends, subjects and the work that hangs on walls across the globe.

Rest in Peace Lucian.