EU shipping is temporarily suspended

Love Lucian: The Letters of Lucian Freud 1939–1954 – A Times Best Art Book of 2022

The Letters of Lucian Freud 1939–1954

David Dawson, Martin Gayford


Reproductions of the young Lucian Freud’s letters alongside perceptive context and commentary reveal the foundations of the artist’s personality and creative practice

See Inside

Also available as an eBook from Online store, Online store


The young Lucian Freud was described by his friend Stephen Spender as ‘totally alive, like something not entirely human, a leprechaun, a changeling child, or, if there is a male opposite, a witch.’ All that magnetism and brilliance is displayed in the letters assembled here, many published for the first time.

From schoolboy messages to his parents, through letters to friends, lovers and confidants, to correspondence with patrons and associates as he became established as a professional painter, they are peppered with wit, affection and irreverence. Collectively, they provide a powerful insight into his early life and art. Co-authored by David Dawson, Freud’s longstanding personal assistant and now Director of the Lucian Freud Archive, and Martin Gayford, author, critic and friend of the artist, this is the first published collection of Freud’s correspondence. Reproduced in facsimile alongside reproductions of Freud’s artwork, the letters are linked by a narrative that weaves them into the story of his life and relationships through his formative first three decades.


'The artist’s riotous lust for life is revealed …The publication of Lucian Freud’s letters is like the moment in Peter Jackson’s Beatles documentary when Paul McCartney picks up his bass and creates Get Back out of thin air. It’s letting daylight in on magic … part of the charm of this book is the revelation - to me, at least - of his sense of humour'
Sunday Times

'Lively ... Here Freud’s letters and postcards, in his strangely childlike writing and often augmented with drawings, shed a very personal light on his life and loves … Addressed to lovers, family and friends such as Stephen Spender, Kenneth Clark and Sonia Orwell, Freud’s correspondence fizzes with joshing and drolleries'
The Times, Best Art Books of the Year

'A model of intelligent design … The raw spontaneity and energy of each illustrated page conveys Freud’s moods and preoccupations in a way that no biographer can match. Altogether, this is as vivid a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as we shall ever have, and compelling reading for Freud aficionados and amateur psychologists alike'
The Spectator

'Handsome and enthralling … LOVE LUCIAN is unique, a sort of biographical tapestry woven around a set of missives reproduced in facsimile that are at once skimpy, slapdash, funny and, in many cases, idiosyncratically but beautifully illustrated works of pictorial art'

'Playful, gossipy and charming – unpublished letters by a young Lucian Freud show the great artist in a new light'
Daily Telegraph

'Charming … reveals a new side of [Freud’s] character'
The Art Newspaper

'Witty and irreverent'
Harper's Bazaar

'Sheds light on the internal voice and ponderings of one of the greatest painters of the 20th century ... a revelation'
Luxury London

'Offer[s] the artist's correspondence in facsimile, the better to appreciate his doodles and drawings ... [A] sumptuous, illustrated collage of the artist's development'
Vogue Inc

'A lively and entertaining read'

'An inviting portrait of the artist as a young man through facsimiles of his handwritten, often lavishly embellished personal correspondence ... Richly illustrated'

'Love Lucian is beautifully presented, and contextualized with wit and an expert’s discernment. It doesn’t hurt that Freud was one of the century’s great talkers, rogues, and talents'
Air Mail

'Compelling and subtly captivating … That the letters are reproduced in full colour adds much to the book’s charm and gives a great sense of intimacy … Alongside the letters is a sensitively written account of the progress of Lucian’s contemporary life as well as a generous selection of superb reproductions of his work, providing plenty of context … an intimate and affectionate, curated portrait of a great man in his own words'
Henry Malt, The Artist

'A sumptuous £65 edition of Freud’s lively, louche, careless early correspondence, Love Lucian is a life in letters, lovingly annotated – every letter in facsimile so we can see the drawings'
Times Literary Supplement

Read More

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback without Jacket

Size: 31.5 x 21.0 cm

Extent: 392 pp

Illustrations: 300

Publication date: 29 September 2022

ISBN: 9780500024850

About the Author

David Dawson is a painter and photographer who was Freud’s assistant and regular model for over twenty years. He appears in paintings such as Sunny Morning–Eight Legs, 1997. Dawson is Director of the Lucian Freud Archive. Martin Gayford is art critic for The Spectator. His books include Man with a Blue Scarf (in which he recounts the experience of being painted by Freud), Modernists and Mavericks, Spring Cannot be Cancelled (with David Hockney), A History of Pictures (with David Hockney) and Shaping the World (with Antony Gormley), all published by Thames & Hudson.

Related Topics