The Lucian Freud estate has bequeathed works by Degas and Corot to the nation, under the government’s acceptance in lieu of tax scheme. Freud died in 2011, setting out in his will that the works of art should be displayed for all to enjoy. The Corot portrait was purchased in 2001 from the collection of the Hollywood film star Edward G Robinson. It was bought at auction and kept on the top floor of Freud’s house in Kensington Church Street London. The masterpiece said to have inspired the Impressionists will now become part of the perminant collection of the National Gallery, while the three Degas sculptures will be exhibited at The Courtauld Gallery in the Strand.
Born the son of an Austrian Jewish father, Ernst Ludwig Freud, a successful architect, and a German mother, Lucie née Brasch.He was the grandson of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, the elder brother of the late broadcaster, writer and liberal politician Clement Freud and the uncle of writer Emma and PR guru Matthew Freud. Lucian moved with his family to England in 1933 to escape the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. He became a British citizen in 1939, having attended Dartington Hall School in Totnes, Devon, and later the Bryanston School. When he was 15, Freud enrolled at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, but unhappy with the school’s classical direction quit in 1939. He than attend the East Anglian School of painting, run by the artist Cedric Morris. Freud was recognised by Morris as a prodigy and on his own initiative sketched portraits of the editors of the publication Horizon, Cyril Connolly and Stephen Spender. Freud took a studio in Maida Vale and lived the classic bohemian lifestyle during the war. His powerful subjects often included friends and family which he turned into revealing portraits and particularly innovative, oversized nudes. Freud’s body of work follows a perceptive exploration of daily life not dissimilar to the American painter Edward Hopper.
His paintings demonstrate that significant art can come from the acute observation of ordinary events, and, again like Hopper but in a very different way, a similar atmosphere of unease is created. He makes us aware of our sexuality, our fatness or thinness, our mortality – our nakedness.”I paint people,” Freud has said, “not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller said she was “delighted that these magnificent works by Corot and Degas will now be on permanent public display, where they can be enjoyed by all”.