Lucian Freud’s Voluptuous Muse Is Making Art

Sue Tilley with her portrait at the National Portrait Gallery, London Photo via: Hannah Rothschild
Sue Tilley with her portrait at the National Portrait Gallery, London Photo via: Hannah Rothschild

Sue Tilley is best known as Lucian Freud‘s voluptuous model. When the nude portrait of her, Benefits Supervisor Sleeping (1995), hit the auction block in 2008, it sold for $33.6m (£17.2m), breaking the record for the most expensive work by a living artist.

The muse has now turned artist, the Guardian reports. “I always disliked anything I drew because I wanted it to look more arty,” she told Vanessa Thorpe. “Then suddenly I found I had the confidence not to bother with all that.”

Tilley, who is often referred to as “Big Sue” in reference to her generous proportions, met Freud through her friend, the performance artist Leigh Bowery. For nine months, she posed for the painter every weekend and in the evening.

Encouraged by another friend, the artist Rui Ferreira, she started sketching cartoons earlier this year and has just finished drawing the cast of a new show, Fashion Victim – The Musical, by Toby Rose.

“I like working in crayons, because it is quite tidy,” she says. “I have tried paint, but I am very messy and I am really rubbish at clearing up. I will retire when I can afford it and then I would like to illustrate children’s stories and stay in London, which I love.”


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