• Search Icon
  • Toggle Menu
  • Close Menu

The Art

Search for information about all the works of art and craft we have donated to museums

Narcissus (1948)

Lucian Freud

ink on paper

Tate, London, Liverpool and St Ives

Narcissus (1948)



Drawing and Watercolour


Ink, Paper


21 x 13.7 cm

Accession Number:



Presented by the Contemporary Art Society, as bequest of Pauline Vogelpoel, 2004



Ownership history:

Purchased by Robin Ironside (1912-1965) for the Contemporary Art Society, 1950; presented to Tate, as bequest of Pauline Vogelpoel (1926-2002), 2004
The publishers MacGibbon & Kee commissioned Lucian Freud to illustrate Rex Warner’s book on classical mythology: Men and Gods. Freud produced four drawings for the book, of which Narcissus is one. The others Man of Hyacinths, Hercules and Actaeon are in private collections. However, MacGibbon & Kee rejected them as they were thought unsuitable because they were in contemporary dress and the drawings of Elizabeth Corsellis were chosen instead when the book was published in 1950. Robin Ironside (1912-1965) purchased Narcissus in 1950 when he was an elected buyer for the Contemporary Art Society that year and it was exhibited in its Recent Purchases exhibition in 1951. However, it seems to have been misplaced until the CAS secretary and director Pauline Voglepoel (1926-2002) died and then was ‘bequeathed’ and accepted by the Tate Gallery.

The mythological subject of Narcissus tells the story of a boy who falls in love with a reflection of himself and later dies. In Freud’s meticulously rendered line and dot pencil drawing he is seen, in a woollen jumper, cradling his face gazing down at himself, excluding his own eyes in the mirroring.

All rights reserved. Any further use will need to be cleared with the rights holder. Permission granted to reproduce for personal and educational use only. Commercial copying, hiring, lending is prohibited.

Read our copyright policy for more information.

Artworks by Lucian Freud

Browse more relevant artworks.

You Might Also Like