Find us

‘Freud’s Naked Truths’: Documentary On Sigmund’s Grandson

Written by Alexander Tucker   // 06/15/2012

Sue Tilley in Front of Benefits Supervisor Sleeping

The Smithsonian Channel will premiere a one-hour documentary focused on Lucian Freud, Sigmund Freud’s grandson, on Tuesday July 3, 9 PM ET/PT.

Yes, that’s right! Sigmund Freud had a grandson who was just as controversial as his famous grandfather, if not even more controversial. Lucian Freud was a renowned artist who pushed the boundaries for his time period with portraits of lovers, gangsters, children, and even the Queen of England. His painting earned record-breaking amounts at auctions.

Lucian Freud’s paintings tended to ruin a lot of relationships over time because of their often unflattering truths. In fact, the royal photographer of England was completely incensed with the portrait that Lucian made of the Queen of England, and suggested that it should be thrown off the Tower of London.

One of Lucian Freud’s most famous paintings was called, “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping,” and focused on a very large woman named “Big Sue” Tilley who had a career as a benefits supervisor (hence the title of the portrait). “Big Sue” features a very obese lady lying naked across a sofa. “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” set a world record auction price of $33.6 million at Christie’s of New York. This was the highest amount earned at an auction ever for a living artist.


Many people would say that Lucian Freud’s grandfather, Sigmund Freud, had a lot of influence on the types of paintings that he created. Most of his models were painted while lying naked on a couch, which resembled the couch that Sigmund Freud used during his psychoanalysis sessions. Oftentimes the subject of the portrait also had some type of object, such as a rat or dog, which could be explained as the unconscious or object of a dream.

Edward Chaney, Chair of History of Collecting Research Centre, stated, “The distinctive, recumbent manner in which Freud poses so many of his sitters suggests the conscious of unconscious influence both of his grandfather’s psychoanalytical couch and of the Egyptian mummy, his dreaming figures, clothed or nude, staring into space until (if ever) brought back to health and/or consciousness. The particular application of this supine pose to freaks, friends, wives, mistresses, dogs, daughters and mother alike (the latter regularly depicted after her suicide attempt and eventually, literally mummy-like in death), tends to support this hypothesis.”

Lucian Freud passed away on July 20, 2011, but had given his full backing for this documentary prior to his death. In fact the documentary includes footage of the very last time he painted, which also happens to be the only footage ever made of him painting.Freud

The documentary will not only include footage of Lucian painting, but will also feature interviews and candid stories from his friends, family members, lovers, and models. Lucian Freud had a rather large family as he had at least 14 different children with a number of different women. Some rumors are that Lucian fathered up to 40 total children, but there are just 14 that are confirmed. Lucian Freud not only had a couple wives over the years, but also numerous mistresses.

FREUD’S NAKED TRUTHS was produced by Blakeway Productions and directed by Randall Wright. Executive Producers for Smithsonian Channel are Linda Goldman and David Royle.


Inside Lucian Freud’s Studio:


Similar posts