Lucian Freud was born in Berlin. His grandfather, Sigmund Freud, invented psychoanalysis. His mother was the daughter of a grain merchant from North Germany: childhood summers were often spent on the Baltic near the island of Rügen. His father, an architect, brought his wife and three sons to England in 1932. Freud went briefly to various schools in England, among them Dartington Hall and Bryanston, but in 1939, having decided to become an artist, joined Cedric Morris’ East Anglian School at Dedham. When it burned down two years later, he joined the Navy, but was invalided out after five months. He had his first solo show at the Lefevre Gallery, London in 1944.

Soon after the war Freud went to Greece for six months (where his series of crystal clear sea creatures, flotsam and prickly fruit was begun), but by and large he prefers not to travel: "My travelling is downwards, rather than outwards". Once settled in Paddington he painted, as he has continued to paint, the people and places he knows best - his family, wasteground and factories near and around Paddington, his friends, his whippets and horses.

By the end of the 1950s, the tight graphic style gave way to a looser, more painterly technique: a change of purpose and direction: "I have watched behaviour change human forms. My horror of the idyllic, and a growing awareness of the limited value of recording visually observed facts, has led me to work from people I know. Whom else can I hope to portray with any degree of profundity?" Nudes became increasingly prominent in his work and together with his portraits they have earned Freud acclaim as one of the most original painters of the day - original in the sense of innovation rather than novelty.