© Estate of Bruce Bernard (Virginia Verran)


Bruce Bernard (1928 – 2000)


40.6 X 50.8 CM
Accession number


In the catalogue From LondonBernard wrote of his friendshp with Freud: " I have, and I do not use the word out of only formal deference had the honour of knowing Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon quite well over periods. I met Lucian Freud first in 1943, Francis Bacon probably in 1948.

It was while I was at school in 1942 that I first came across Lucian Freud in person, but also Francis Bacon in the form a reproduction in Herbert Read’s Art Now. I met Lucian during the school holidays. I was very impressed by Lucian’s exotic and somewhat demonic aura, and my mother warned me that being Sigmund Freud’s grandson he might be dangerous to know – though this of course made me even more interested in him. I saw and was very impressed by his drawings reproduced in Horizon. In spite of my devotion to Picasso, Braque, Matisse, Rouault and Miró I felt that Lucian’s rather idiosyncratic, more naturalistic and Northern view of things came from a powerful artistic personality and it seemed certain to me, as it did to many much older and wiser, that he was definitely going somewhere. I think he regarded me and my family with only momentary curiosity and remember him calling me ‘Bryce’ with a soft German ‘R’. I didn’t see him again until late 1947, in Paris, when he said ‘Hello Bryce’ and disappeared again. But I didn’t really make friends with Lucian until the very early sixties though I saw him from time to time on his forays in Soho. Sometimes he was with Francis Bacon, but more often, I think, looking to extend his range of female acquaintanceship and to survey the scene while backing horses.

Since then Lucian’s career has been extraordinary and his personal life no less so. His avowed determination to do nothing whatever that he doesn’t want to can make one wince a little, but it has produced one of the few great bodies of work ever painted in this country. All the lily-livered carping about the inhumanity of his ‘naked portraits’ which are in fact exactly the opposite in sentiment, is now almost completely silenced. He now seems to have reached something like a ‘sunlit upland’ in his work, populated, in part at least, by monumentally overweight people who have enjoyed in the most wholesome way their unlooked for ‘immortality’. (There is no doubt in my mind that the late Leigh Bowery, however sad his fate, derived a very welcome sustenance from his work for Lucian.) If Lucian has sometimes, or for all I know, often behaved like a shit, as many of the best, and perhaps even more of the worst artists do, then he has left a lot of life and intelligence-enhancing images behind him. And I’m sure that during the years that remain he will continue to increase and enrich that legacy."

From London, an exhibition of works by Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Leon Kossoff, Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach and R B Kitaj organised by the British Council in association with the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. 1995