Lucian Freud accused of throwing kitten over farm wall to taunt rival

Jon Lys Turner was a friend of Richard Chopping, an artist who illustrated the covers of eight James Bond 007 books by Ian Fleming, the creator of the character. Chopping was a rival of Lucian Freud. They knew each other through Fleming’s wife Ann and they went to the same art school. Chopping hated Freud and wrote down 13 reasons for this hatred at 3am one night.

Lucian Freud
Lucian Freud. Source: Wikipedia.
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Freud died in 2011. Turner is the guardian of the Chopping archive. He discovered in documents that Freud was accused of killing Chopping’s pet rabbit so that he could paint it as a still life. Also, Freud was accused of hurling a kitten over a farm wall to taunt Chopping as Chopping was sensitive towards animals.

Clearly Lucian Freud was insensitive to animals and their welfare. Freud became a world-renowned artist but according to Chopping (as gathered from the documents mentioned) Freud was unpliable with clients and was, by implication, unsuited to the task of illustrating Ian Fleming’s book covers.

By contrast Turner said that Chopping was “entertaining, amusing and accommodating – qualities he never saw in Freud. I suspect Fleming didn’t get far with Freud and saw these qualities missing…”

Chopping said Freud turned down the offer to illustrate the covers.

Comment: the story is interesting to me for the snippet of information about Freud’s attitude towards animals. It appears to have been insensitive at the best and cruel at worst. But this may be incorrect as he liked horses (see below). Perhaps his irritation with Chopping drove him to throw that kitten. Or perhaps he disliked cats but liked other animals.


Some more general information on Freud.

Benefits Supervisor Sleeping
Benefits Supervisor Sleeping by Lucian Freud.

Lucian Freud was an internationally renowned artist; a British painter and draughtsman specialising in figurative art. He is known as one of the foremost 20th-century portraitists. He was a private man and guarded. Most of his paintings are of friends and family. They are generally sombre with thick paint set in urban landscapes and unsettling interiors. His works are said to examine the relationship between artist and model. He worked from life studies and was known for punishing sittings from his models.

He studied at the Central School of Art in London. And also between 1939-1942 at Cedric Morris’ East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in Dedham. He also attended Goldsmiths’ College which is part of the University of London between 1942-43. During the war he served as a merchant seaman in an Atlantic convoy in 1941 and was invalided out in 1942.

On the issue of animals, he used animals in his compositions often and they frequently featured the companion animal of the person sitting for him. He particularly liked horses having enjoyed riding at school in Dartington. He apparently slept in the stables sometimes. Some of his paintings are just of horses including Grey Gelding (2003) and Mare Eating Hay (2006).

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