Prior to his sad death in July of this year, British painter Lucian Freud was said to be one of the world's greatest living artists. In Britain, Freud inherited that informal title from Francis Bacon and now the mantle passes, most likely, to David Hockney. Mr Hockney has a lot to live up to.
Despite dividing critical opinion with his work throughout his long career, Freud's portraits remain enduringly popular and, refreshingly, continue to enjoy widespread appeal. The unflattering nudes and famous portraits, not least of the (dressed) Queen, while considered distasteful by some, were broadly loved by the public for their grotesque honesty.
This bold directness appeals to collectors too. In May 2008, Freud's 1995 'Benefits Supervisor Sleeping' sold (to Roman Abramovich) for nearly £17m - a world record for a living artist. The painting was of Sue Tiley and she features among the 100 or so Freud portraits to be exhibited at the NPG next year, as part of the 'Cultural Olympiad'.
The exhibition will feature Freud's portraits of famous (and not so famous) subjects, including both Bacon and Hockney, and will also include his last, unfinished work, 'Portrait of the Hound', of Freud's assistant David Dawson and his dog Eli.
Lucian Freud's much-loved work was always going to outlive a mere mortal and the artist's immense and permanent contribution to British art will form one of the most valuable exhibitions in history, with works totalling an estimated £1bn.
Lucian Freud Portraits will run at the National Portrait Gallery from 9th February to 27th May 2012. Admission is £14 per person, with entry time slots between 10AM and 4.30PM to be booked in advance. The National Portrait Gallery is open seven days a week.
We have tickets available now for all dates but demand is expected to be very high, especially for weekend slots, so best to book early.