Girl with a White Dog

Girl with a White Dog is an oil on canvas painting by Lucian Freud. The size is 30 x 40 inches and it was painted between 1951 and 1952. According to Tate, the institution that owns this piece, the woman in the painting is Freud’s first wife. Her name is Kitty Garman, the daughter of sculptor Jacob Eipstein, and she was pregnant during this time. Tate added, “The sense that Freud gives of human existence as essentially lonely, and spiritually if not physically painful.”

In the painting, Freud shows a woman sitting with her legs crossed on what appears to be a low couch. Her left arm is leaning on the side of a window and her left hand is resting on the couch. Her lower right arm appears to be cupping her right breast while pressing her left breast with her right hand. She is wearing a pale yellow robe and a gold ring on her left hand’s ring finger. Her side-parted hair is dark golden-brown and has wavy ends. Her eyebrows are thin and her eyes are big and round. On her lap, a white bull terrier is relaxing and it is looking directly at its viewer. Her background is only a light ochre piece of fabric.

I was intrigued by his last name and to find out that he was the grandson of pioneering psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud got me more intrigued! There is no doubt that Freud could paint. The details on every stripe of the couch’s cover are impressive. The texture on her robe and the fabric behind her look so real as if you could feel them. Freud also meticulously painted the dog’s smooth hair. It seems Freud is an expert when it comes to lines and textures. But! The woman’s big eyes were exaggeratedly painted. It is quite difficult to determine where she is looking at as he painted the light reflection on her eyes on different parts. Her skin looks like plastic and her skin tone is too pale, and in my opinion, he could have painted her skin less glossy. Her full lips look like she is happy but her eyes look startled. It is just bizarre that Freud made her overall figure looking flat and dull while the rest were almost close to seamless.

The longer I look at it, the more I feel odd. Furthermore, it seems that the woman and the dog don’t know each other that it could bite her intentionally exposed breast any minute. Freud clearly wasn’t looking for perfection and I think he wanted it to look flawed yet real to purposely make the viewer feel uncomfortable.