The first biography of the large life of one of the most important, enigmatic, yet private artists of the twentieth century. Drawn from almost forty years of conversations with the artist, letters, and papers, it is a major work written by a well-known British art critic.

Lucian Freud (1922-2011) is one of the most influential figurative painters of the twentieth century. His paintings are in every major museum and many private collections here and abroad. William Feaver's daily calls from 1973 until Freud died in 2011, as well as interviews with Freud's family and friends, were crucial sources. Freud's circle was broad, including not just other well-known artists but writers, bluebloods, royals in England and Europe, drag queens, fashion models, gamblers, bookies, and gangsters like the Kray twins. Fierce, rebellious, charismatic, extremely guarded about his life, he was witty, mischievous, and a womanizer.
    This brilliantly researched book begins with the Freuds' life in Berlin, and the family's escape from Hitler to London in 1933, when Lucian was ten. Sigmund Freud was his grandfather, and Ernst, his father, was an architect. Freud's first solo show was in 1944 and at that time he met Virginia Woolf, Sonia Orwell, Cecil Beaton, W.H. Auden, Patrick Leigh-Fermor and the Aly Khan; nights were spent at the Gargoyle club, his muse was a married femme fatale, thirteen years older, Lorna Wishart. But it was Francis Bacon who would become his most important influence, and the painters Frank Auerbach and David Hockney, close friends. He would meet the artists Picasso, Giacometti, Andre Breton, Alexander Calder and Balthus. He was married twice: to Kitty Garman Epstein, the daughter of the famous sculptor Jacob Epstein, and to Lady Caroline Blackwood; he had two daughters from the first marriage, but he had twelve other children from his many liasons.
    This is an extremely intimate, lively, and rich portrait of the artist, full of gossip and stories recounted by Freud to Feaver about people, encounters, and work. Freud's art was his life--"my work is purely autobiographical"-- and he usually painted only family, friends, lovers, and children, though there were exceptions, like the famous small portrait of the Queen; sittings could take up to sixteen months, each session lasting five hours, but subjects were rarely bored, as Freud was a great raconteur and mimic. This book is a major achievement that reveals the details of the life and innermost thoughts of the greatest portrait painter of our time.


Cover photograph © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby's
“Gossipy, enthralling…this book captures the age in which Freud lived during the first half of his long life…One could say that “The Restless Years,” with its vivid anecdotes and rakish candor, is a kind of collaboration between Freud and Mr. Feaver.”—Dominic Green, The Wall Street Journal

“It is rare that a subject’s voice rings so clearly through his own biography, and its salty, bragging, screw-you tone, its barbed humor and sudden darts into seriousness, fleet as a fish, are among the main pleasures of this book…the writer’s deep background as a critic shines through.”—Jan Dalley, The Financial Times

“Art, debauchery, nightlife, and lowlifes fill out this rollicking biography of the celebrated British painter…the result is a riotously entertaining narrative that immerses readers in Freud’s beguiling sensibility.” –Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“As entertaining, and full of twists and turns, as a picaresque novel … It has amazing zip and gusto, and leaves you wanting more. Which is just as well: there is a second volume to follow. I can’t wait.” —Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

“Authoritative and exhaustive. Happy accident that it’s so lovely to read.” —Rumaan Alam, The New Republic
“Sensational . . . Rich with gossip and stories." —Vogue

“One of the most intimate biographies of an artist ever written … A delight” —Literary Review

“Lucian Freud never wanted anyone to understand him.  He wanted to be known as a painter but not as a person and during his lifetime he largely succeeded. But William Feaver . . . has done a brilliant job of illuminating his difficult, provocative personality.”—Lynn Barber, The Daily Telegraph (Starred Review)

“Lucian Freud lived recklessly and selfishlyand made paintings unlike anything in the history of art… Freud didn’t want a biography published in his lifetime, but he chose to talk amply with Feaver . . . with a dictaphone stretched to the limits, Feaver had the most superlative materialand he was bound to it. Large tracts of what we have here are Freud by Freud.” Alexandra HarrisThe Guardian

“Mesmerizing, almost surreal in its headlong layering of detail, memory and gossip. Propelled by Freud's sardonic recollections, and lit throughout by William Feaver's impeccable, penetrating analysis of the work, this is a monstrously brilliant portrait.” —Jenny Uglow, author of Mr. Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense

"Lucian Freud was unique; unique in intensity, in affection, in interest and in fun. This brilliant and compendious biography has the same qualities. It does justice to Lucian." —Frank Auerbach

“The young Lucian Freud was ‘a comet of astonishing brilliance,’ said one writer. In William Feaver’s The Lives of Lucian Freud: The Restless Years, 1922-1968, based upon decades of conversation with the painter, we hear Freud’s remarkable voice on almost every page. The result is a vivid, intimate biography of one of the 20th century’s most storied artists.” —Annalyn Swan and Mark Stevens, authors of de Kooning: An American Master