Liverpool artwork of the day – Thursday April 12 2007. ‘Interior at Paddington’ 1951 by Lucian Freud (born 1922) Oil on canvas at The Walker
Another reminder that the Walker has a great collection of 20th Century artworks.
The model, Harry Diamond, was a friend of the artist. He spent six months posing for the picture.
Freud creates a mood of depression and neglect. His unrelenting scrutiny and the loitering figure outside add to the sense of unease. Freud has said ‘the task of the artist is to make the human being uncomfortable.’
What does this picture mean? It is called ‘Interior at Paddington’ and sometimes ‘Interior Near Paddington’. The title seems deliberately to diminish the significance of the human content that is so prominent in the painting. It is as though the figure of Harry Diamond is regarded as less important than the overall containing room in which he stands. What also seems likely is that the painting was meant to have an air of menace and uncertainty.
The pose that Harry Diamond adopts it in essence a mirror-image of the famous aggressive pose that was commonly used by Holbein for his full-length portraits of Henry VIII (one such portrait of Henry VIII can be seen in Room 1 in the Walker). However instead of carrying gloves to betoken elegance Harry Diamond has a cigarette in one hand and his clenched fist is heavily nicotine stained. Instead of a rich velvet fur trimmed and silk-embroidered cloak he wears a drab dirty mackintosh. Freud’s forthright and slightly seedy figure contrasts with the regal pedigree of the pose.