I have been prompted by the Freud exhibition at the National Gallery to look back on his long relationship to the collection, which hangs over the exhibition implied, but unexplored.
The answer to one of my questions is given in William Feaver’s admirable biography, vol 2. Freud did a Painter’s Eye exhibition in 1987. Few Italians: ‘ Most of the paintings in the National Gallery are Italian and I was made more conscious of the fact that they weren’t the things that I felt were essential to me’. A wall-full of Rembrandt’s – ‘Seven Rembrandts on one wall in natural light’. Chardin’s The Young Schoolmistress. The Rokeby Venus. Ingres. Whistler and Vuillard. Freud wrote, ‘I have been asked to give the reasons for my choice of paintings. The paintings themselves are the reasons’.