‘I see each picture as representing a period in my life. It is more than a snap shot – [it] is a substantial enough period to have had to see how you felt that time, your state of mind, your concerns and what you were going through encapsulated’ (I. Boyt, quoted in J. Auerbach and W. Feaver, Sitting for Freud, BBC 2004).
Intimately observed and intricately rendered, Portrait of Ib (1979) is a candid portrait of Lucian Freud’s daughter Isobel (‘Ib’) Boyt. Ib’s mother Suzy Boyt was a talented young artist whom Freud had met whilst teaching part-time at the Slade School, and between 1957 and 1969 the couple had four children: Ib’s older brother and sister Alexander (‘Ali’) and Rose, and her younger sister Susie. The Boyts came to outline a significant portion of Freud’s production, but it was Ib who featured most prominently in his oeuvre. Freud’s portrayals of her span nearly thirty years of her life: from Large Interior, Paddington (1968-69), in which she was just seven years old, to Head of Ib (1983-1984), in which she was in her early twenties, to Ib and her Husband (1992), by which point she was married with children. In the present work, Freud embarks on a thorough study of Ib’s face, rendering the fleshy volumes, the density and weight of her head with deft graphic precision. The present work captures a young Ib in her late teens, flushed and radiant in a state of carefree repose. Her hair falls gently behind her ear, streaked with dark highlights, rendered by the granular texture of charcoal and graphite. Freud delicately outlines the smoothness of the pillow underneath her head, darkened by the shadow of her profile. The work captures the tender affection Freud felt for his daughter on the brink of her adult life, having been largely absent from her childhood. For Ib, too – who had only just recently started to get to know her father – spending time in Freud’s studio was ‘a way of having a relationship with my dad’ (I. Boyt, quoted in J. Auerbach and W. Feaver, Sitting for Freud, BBC 2004).