In the studio: Rose Boyt and Lucian Freud

In the studio: Rose Boyt and Lucian Freud

Elusive and camera-shy, Lucian Freud rarely allowed himself to be photographed. While working on Naked man with rat 1977-78, now in the AGWA Collection, he commissioned a young Rose Boyt, one of his fourteen acknowledged children, to capture a series of moments in the studio.

Freud’s fascination with the unmediated, vulnerable and objectively seen human body led to a practice where sessions would last for months with a pose or a prop adding an element of awkwardness, thus bringing out a rawness in the sitter that Freud was after. Naked man with rat depicts Freud’s friend Raymond Jones with a pet rat. The rat was necessary, Jones recalled, because “if the rat was not there,” Freud told him, “your mind would be working differently.”

Wild and sassy, Boyt forged a relationship with her father the same way as his other children, who had to get used to his unconventional parenting style. He painted many of them, including Boyt, whose unfinished portrait appears in the background of her photographs. The power dynamic between the three protagonists comes into focus in these images and they capture Boyt’s agency as a daughter, a sitter and a photographer in her own right.

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