Lucian Freud, Girl Holding Her Foot, 1985
Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto have now been continuously on public view for sixty-three years. In this time, millions of visitors have seen them and drawn inspiration. Their relevance for the artists, writers and art-lovers of today is as strong as in the decades following their creation. In 2001, the artist Lucian Freud wrote of Titian’s two Diana paintings, ‘When I first saw these Titians I was so affected by the navel of the nymph Callisto that I repainted the stomach of a naked portrait I was doing at the time… To me, these are simply the most beautiful pictures in the world. Once you've seen them, you want to see them again and again.’
Freud created his first etchings in 1946, using a hotel-room sink as an acid bath. However after several more experiments with the medium he felt unsatisfied and abandoned it until the 1980s. In 1982 he made several small prints of portrait heads for inclusion in a book. This work is one of a number of prints created in 1985, whose large size shows Freud’s interest in the possibilities of the medium, and his confidence as a printmaker. In this print, Freud has captured the weight of the sitter’s body, just as he does in his paintings. It relates to a painting of the same name, but the artist has chosen to remove the studio setting in the print.
Freud was born in Berlin, the grandson of Sigmund Freud. His family moved to England in 1933. Freud's work from the 1940s has a hallucinatory quality derived from his interest in Surrealism. In the late 1950s his meticulous style gave way to a broader handling of paint, richer colours and the dramatic use of light. However his art was always based on observation of the real world. Although Freud distanced himself from the art world, his work is highly sought-after and he was widely regarded as the world's leading figurative painter of his time.