31 July 2021

Lucian Freud and Caroline Blackwell, but God too


I love these two portraits of Caroline Blackwell by Lucian Freud, and they are everything I love in a portrait but are so very different in many ways. They both exemplify a rigorous discipline to detail, yet they haven't been damaged by any loss of unity, pictorial or graphic. 

Lucian Freund had a very colourful love-life, to say the least, and I believe that Caroline Blackwell was his first of many wives.

These are early pictures, so unlike his paint-laden portraits which came later. This top one is perhaps the earliest, and it is quite stylised, but not without real feeling for what it means to be human, as empathy comes to mind. Because of the cat, held firmly in her right hand, it feels like a whimsical cartoon, the poor cat! (there is obviously a hidden joke here somewhere, maybe, even an erotic one). 

The British can get away with this eccentric wry humour in Art, but it's a reminder too, that the Brits really love Painting (unlike the French!) (But that is another story for another day).

The portrait below is my real favourite. It is as good as Portraiture can ever get. Like a hummingbird, a modern spirit of Holbein seems to hover around all its ephemeral details. 

There is so much to say about it but I won't, not today anyway, another day perhaps. It's the kind of rare portrait which simply leaves one without those bothersome words when looking at Art. But, I will cite what Freud once said about Painting:

“An artist should appear in his work no more than God in nature. The man is nothing; the work is everything.” 

Happy August everyone!
and XXX from the seaside here in Australia!


  1. Nice choices. I'd say that your favorite has a bit more narrative than the hummingbird of Holbein. Is it the linear elegance and simplicity you admire or perhaps the muted palette? Whatever, it reeks of sensitivity and introspection. I love it too.

    1. everything about both, thanks for the comment ,,, will call this week