Clement and Henry: Who is more hangdog?

After my recent, rather gloomy post about Sigmund Freud and his last dogs, I promised something more cheery. I’m delivering with an exploration of the prominent role that dogs played in the lives of two of Freud’s grandsons, Clement and Lucian, brothers who didn’t speak to each other for at least 50 — some say 70 — years.

Can you say “sibling rivalry”?

Clement Freud, Celebrity Chef, Dog Food Rep

According to Wikipedia:

Clement Freud was one of Britain’s first celebrity chefs, having worked at the Dorchester Hotel, and went on to run his own restaurant in Sloane Square at a relatively young age. As well as this, he had various newspaper and magazine columns, and was later a familiar face on television for his appearance in a series of dog food commercials (at first for Minced Morsels, later Chunky Meat) in which he co-starred with a bloodhound called Henry (played by a number of dogs) which shared his trademark “hangdog” expression.

Although he became a well known radio host and liberal member of Parliament, Freud was never taken entirely seriously as a result of these commercials:

Clement Freud’s obituary in The Telegraph notes:  “During his early years in the Commons he was greeted with barks whenever he rose to speak.”

Lucian Freud: Artist, Rebel, Dog Lover

Lucian Freud, "Double Portrait" (1985)

I don’t know if Clement Freud had his own canine companions — perhaps he only played a dog owner on TV — but his far more famous brother, Lucian, was both professionally and personally involved with dogs. One of the most important British artists of the 20th century, he said in an interview:

I’m really interested in people as animals… I like people to look as natural and as physically at ease as animals, as Pluto my whippet.

This portrait of Lucian Freud’s daughter with  Pluto demonstrates how well he succeeded in this goal.

Lucian seemed to have difficulties with human relationships. According to The Telegraph, he turned down a knighthood because his estranged brother, Clement, had one; he severed ties with his other brother, Stephen; and he purportedly fathered some 14 children by “various women” to whom he was not married. But Lucian’s dogs clearly had no complaints, as this photograph of another family whippet, Eli, demonstrates:

Eli in Lucian Freud's studio

But that’s just a glimpse into the topic. For  a wonderfully in-depth and beautifully illustrated tribute to the artist and his dogs, see Lucian Freud: Dogged Portraitist.


11 thoughts on “Freud & Dogs: The Family Heritage”

  1. I’m only vaguely familiar with Lucian Freud’s work, but now I must know more. The website you linked to is lovely. I’ll watch the documentary about LF later today if time, hopefully, permits. Funny how a feeling of contentment comes over me when in the company of people who love dogs and embrace their relationship with them as integral, essential to their lives.

    1. Yes, I agree. Whether it’s rational or not, there’s something about the connection with dogs that predisposes me to like a person. Except in the case of Hitler.

      Lucian Freud, according to one of the articles I linked to, compares Prince Charles’ watercolors with those of Hitler. Not a tactful man — but dogs don’t care about that~

  2. Very interesting. I have never really been interested in art but there is something, what’s the word I’m looking for… “Captivating” doesn’t seem right. There is something really arresting anyway about Lucian Freud’s work and I don’t know if it’s just the dogs. Perhaps it’s because most art I’ve seen features subjects posed in unnatural positions. The subjects in Freud’s paintings look more alive, even when asleep. The bull terrier in “Girl With a White Dog” looks soft and real to me.

    Thanks for such an educational post. I had no idea Freud’s grandsons were so important.

    1. You’re welcome. Somehow I never connected Lucian with Sigmund Freud — and I didn’t know much about Lucian’s art; I just had a sense that it was very realistic and a bit disturbing. So I was very pleased to find the wonderful pictures with dogs, who somehow give the humans a bit of, well, humanity.

  3. Really interesting. Thanks!

    I’ve always hated Lucien Freud’s paintings of people, but the dogs are beautiful. Actually, it’s as if he wants human skin to be variegated and textured like a dog’s coat, and he just goes ahead and paints it as if it were — I just realized this looking at the portrait of his daughter (corpselike) and the whippet (lovely). Which, of course, makes the human body look like some dreadful form of meat.

    Edie, do you know David Hockney’s paintings of his dachsies? They’re much less painterly works than Freud’s, but very, very nice.

    1. You’ve nailed it, Renee. Lucian Freud’s humans are disturbing and it’s because they, literally, look like dead meat.

      As it happens, I discovered David Hockney’s dachsies at the Morgan Library animals-in-art exhibit last week — a couple of very sweet sketches. Hmmm… guess I’ll have to blog about it…

      Thanks for coming by~

  4. I’m impressed and moved by the “double portrait” painiting. Yes, the woman looks like she’s near dead. In other paintings that may be very disturbing, but in this one, it makes me think (and feel!) that the painting expresses the deep bond between a dog and his human companion. It’s about loyalty, about the comfort a dog can give you when you are not feeling well, even in despair. Wow, this painting really gets to me… Kind regards, Karen @ designer dog collars

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