The Story of... Lucian Freud

We are only a few weeks into 2010, yet next month already promises one of the most unusual and captivating art sales of the year.

Lucian Freud has been called "the greatest living realist painter" by the art expert Robert Hughes, and others have referred to him as Britain's greatest living artist.

Throughout his life, Freud's troubles - especially his pugilism - away for the canvas have often been as noted as his uncompromising approach to realist painting.

It has now emerged that these two aspects of the artist's life collided around 30 years ago, in a violent altercation between Freud and a taxi driver.

Freud: the 'greatest realist painter of our time'
Freud: described as 'the greatest living
realist painter'

Freud's alleged response was to storm off back to his studio, where he immediately began on a new painting: Self-Portrait With a Black Eye.

More remarkably still, the work then went unnoticed for 30 years. It is unmentioned in the various accounts and records of Freud's life and work.

Now, having resided in a private collection for three decades, Self-Portrait With a Black Eye has emerged on the market and will sell at Sotheby's next month.

Amid much excitement, it is expect to beat the existing price record for a Freud Self-Portrait - $3.7m.

The above video examines Freud's life through his work, starting with his birth in Berlin in 1932 -  he is the grandson of famed psychologist Sigmund Freud - and his family's escape to London during the rise of the Nazis.

In the above film, we see how a "cold and chiselled" approach to painting, surrealist and existential tendencies, and recurring themes of loneliness emerged in the artist's work.

Today, aged 87, Lucian Freud still lives and works in London.

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