How our Lucian Freud co-author ended up in Downing Street
Whoever ends up in No.10 today will get a peek into an art world inner sanctum, thanks to David Dawson
Today, 12 December, is election day in the United Kingdom, when the country votes on its parliamentary representatives. It’s unclear at the moment, whether the Conservative leader, Boris Johnson, will be returned to power as the Prime Minister, and reside once more at 10 Downing Street, the official residence.
However, whoever gets the keys tomorrow, Friday 13th December, will also receive a pleasant aesthetic welcome, courtesy the Government Art Collection, a publicly owned trove of paintings, sculptures, prints and other works, which are loaned out to UK institutions around the world, including the PM’s residence.
And, among those pieces from this collection currently on display at 10 Downing Street is a great work by the British painter, Phaidon author and director of the Lucian Freud Archive, David Dawson.
Dawson assisted Freud from 1991 until the painter's death in July 2011, and was a frequent model in Freud’s paintings. Over the past eight years, he has divided his time between pursuing his own artistic endeavours and taking care of Freud’s legacy with projects such as our new, breath-taking visual biography, Lucian Freud: A Life.
Indeed, Dawson’s own work and his love for the great man’s art often intersect. The work by Dawson that currently hangs in Downing Street is Table for Paints and Brushes, a 2017 painting that, as the inscription on the painting's back notes, shows the paint-spattered studio within which Freud created many of his greatest works.
Will this piece inform a freer, more open-minded style of government? Who can say, though anyone who enjoys the work and would like to know more about the painter who partly inspired it should get hold of a copy of Lucian Freud: A Life here.