Lucian Freud Estate Avoids $4.5 Million Tax by Donating Archive to National Portrait Gallery

The archive makes its big debut next summer.

Lucian Freud, Lucian Freud (1963). Photo: © The Lucian Freud Archive/Bridgeman Images.
Lucian Freud, Lucian Freud (1963). Photo: © The Lucian Freud Archive/Bridgeman Images.

London’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG) has acquired sketchbooks, drawings, and letters by Lucian Freud from the artist’s estate. The artwork comes to the museum through the acceptance in lieu scheme, which allows UK citizens to donate inherited artworks to cultural institutions “in return for conditional exemption from Inheritance Tax or Capital Gains Tax,” as it states on the Arts Council’s website.

The archive includes 162 drawings the artist made as a child, which are each lovingly dated by his mother.

Forty-seven of Freud’s sketchbooks from the mid-1940s through his death in 2011 are also included in the collection, with early drafts of some of the artist’s completed works, such as a charcoal portrait of Arnold Abraham Goodman, the noted lawyer, businessman, and arts administrator, whom the Independent called “the greatest negotiator of the age” in an obituary.

Lucian Freud, <em>Arnold Abraham Goodman, Baron Goodman</em> (1985). Photo: © The Lucian Freud Archive/Bridgeman Images.

Lucian Freud, Arnold Abraham Goodman, Baron Goodman (1985).
Photo: © The Lucian Freud Archive/Bridgeman Images, courtesy the National Portrait Gallery, London.

This past year, Freud’s estate donated to 15 paintings and 29 works on paper by Frank Auerbach to Britain’s national collections. In March, Winston Churchill‘s family donated 37 of the politician’s paintings under the same scheme.

The Freud estate’s latest donation settles a £2.9 million (about $4.5 million) inheritance tax bill.

In a statement quoted by the Guardian, the NPG’s director, Nicholas Cullinan, called the archive a “very important, extensive and generous gift to the nation” that would be “a vital source of reference.”

One of the drawings from the Lucian Freud archive that has been given to the National Portrait Gallery. Photo: © The Lucian Freud Archive.

A drawing from the Lucian Freud archive donated to the National Portrait Gallery.
Photo: © The Lucian Freud Archive.

The newly-acquired archive supplements the NPG’s current Freud holdings, which includes the aforementioned drawing as well as three oil paintings, including a 1963 self-portrait.

“This rare collection of Lucian Freud drawings and letters provides a fascinating glimpse into the work of one of our most pioneering artists,” added culture minister Ed Vaizey. “Bringing these never-seen-before treasures into public collections means that everyone can enjoy and see the early beginnings that shaped his most celebrated work.”

In summer 2016, the gallery plans to display rare selections from the Freud archive to the public.


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