March 1–12, 2020

Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits

A modern master turns his unflinching eye on himself

“Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits” charts the artistic development of the renowned British figurative painter through the unique lens of self-portraiture. Best known for his portraits of his acquaintances, Lucian Freud (1922–2011) painted his subjects with compositional ingenuity, technical virtuosity, and a critical eye, and was no less rigorous when depicting himself. Freud returned to self-portraiture repeatedly over almost seven decades, creating a body of work that stands as one of the most sustained achievements of his career.

With more than 40 works on canvas, paper, and etching plate that span the 1940s to the early 21st century, this exhibition assembles a lifetime of self-portraits. They trace the evolution of Freud’s technique and style: from his linear and graphic early works to the fleshier painterly style that became the hallmark of his later output. They also show a life’s journey, from young boy to old man, in what was effectively an ongoing study of the process of aging and the changes it inflicted on his own physical form.

Freud’s depictions of himself place him in a lineage of artists, from Dürer to Rembrandt onward, who took self-portraiture to new heights. “Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits” is singularly enriched by being on view at the MFA, in the context of its collections containing works by many artists from whom Freud drew his inspiration.

  • Lois B. and Michael K. Torf Gallery (Gallery 184)


Organized by the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Supported by Davis and Carol Noble. Additional support from the Barbara Jane Anderson Fund, the Alexander M. Levine and Dr. Rosemarie D. Bria-Levine Exhibition Fund, The Amy and Jonathan Poorvu Fund for the Exhibition of Contemporary Art and Sculpture, and an Anonymous Funder.

This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Boston Magazine logo

Media Sponsor