10 feb 2023

The day Lucian Freud painted Kate Moss naked and pregnant

In the 2000s, supermodel Kate Moss struck the pose for painter Lucian Freud, Sigmund Freud’s grandson, for a famous nude portrait of her entitled Naked Portrait. Throwback to the wild story behind that painting, as their intense relationship will soon be the topic of the biopic Moss & Freud.

Kate Moss and Ellie Bamber @ Instagram of Ellie Bamber

Kate Moss’ close relationship with Lucian Freud at the heart of an upcoming biopic


Not a week goes by without the announcement of an upcoming biopic. While two features about Amy Winehouse and Michael Jackson have been revealed, it is now Kate Moss’s turn to have a film dedicated to her. The supermodel is the focus of a new biopic directed by the Oscar- winning British director James Lucas and centered on her relationship with German- born British painter Lucian Freud, who did a portrait of her while she was pregnant. Titled Moss & Freud, the film will be set in London in the early 2000s, when Kate Moss was living quite the rock’n’roll life. The fashion icon will be played by Ellie Bamber (Nocturnal Animals, Willow, The Serpent) – chosen by Kate Moss herself – and Lucian Freud will be interpreted by British actor Derek Jacobi (I, Claudius). Kate Moss will be part of the project as she will produce Moss & Freud with the support of the Lucian Freud Archive. In a statement, the so-called “twig” explained: “As this is such a personal story of mine, it has been essential that I be involved with James (Lucas) in all aspects as the project has developed. I am thrilled by the recent casting and excited that the film will begin shooting soon. I cannot wait to see it.”



This announcement also relates to events involving the British artist Lucian Freud, who died in 2011, to whom the National Gallery in London has devoted an exhibition until last January and whose artworks’ value continues to rise at auction. His Naked Portrait (2002) of Kate Moss sold for almost 5 million dollars in the early 2000s. Today, this amount barely represents the estimated price of his paintings that will go under the hammer at Christie’s on February 28th.

Kate Moss in London, at the Diet Coke party in Annabel’s, London (UK). Photo by Ricky Vigil M/GC Images via Getty Images.

An unlikely friendship between a fashion star and a painter


In 2002, Kate Moss was at the apex of her career and had become one of the most influential supermodels, having helped to create this phenomenon. Yet, in an interview with Dazed & Confused, she revealed that one goal on her bucket list hadn’t been ticked off: posing for the painter Lucian Freud. The 82-year-old artist would usually ask his subjects to pose in front of his easel for months and, due to a lack of availability in his schedule, Kate Moss had not been able to become his muse. But the publication of that interview prompted Bella Freud, the artist’s daughter and close friend of the model, to arrange a meeting between them, which eventually led to the idea of the portrait.


Although they are both British, two eras and two worlds seem to separate Kate Moss and Lucian Freud, an artist with a raw and realistic touch. However, they built a surprisingly close friendship from the early 2000s until the artist’s death in 2011. While the painter born in 1922 devoted himself to portraiture, representing the faces of his inner circle from the 1940s onwards, Lucian Freud also painted the most notorious figures of our modern times. In a dark and carnal palette and with a stroke that pushes realism to the extreme, his brush has lingered on the features of great British figures rather than superstars, from his artist friend Francis Bacon in 1952 and Queen Elizabeth II for her Golden Jubilee in 2001, which caused a stir because she looked older than she was, to David Hockney a year later. Nonetheless, he refused to paint the Pope, as well as Lady Diana, whose glamorous image was too strong for the raw nudity of his paintings.


Lucian Freud, “Naked Portrait”, 2002 © Instagram of @lucianfreudart

A surprising painting that establishes Kate Moss as a contemporary art icon


A year after he invited the Queen of England to his studio, Lucian Freud welcomed the 28-year-old supermodel Kate Moss, whose face and body were on the front page of every magazine around the world. The duo met several times a week for almost nine months before giving birth to a portrait that made a lasting impression, and yet seems to be forgotten now. If the biopic Moss & Freud will give the audience an update about the culture clash between a sulphureous fashion icon and a major world-renowned artist, it will also revive the memory of an unprecedented friendship. For the top model has already posed and will pose again with many renowned artists – Gary Hume in 1996, Tracey Emin in 2000, Banksy in 2005, Takashi Murakami and Marc Quinn in 2008… In all these artworks, her beauty is in no way marred, unlike in Freud’s Naked Portrait, which is much cruder, more realistic, and whose depiction was only possible thanks to their close relationship.


Kate Moss lies naked on a bed, lustful, her legs half-spread, her arm casually resting on a white pillow, her head bent. Her body is almost unrecognizable, as the model was pregnant with her daughter Lila Moss. Her silhouette is stretched by the alternance between light and dark beige touches, while her face, cleared from her hair, is much more ringed and wrinkled than in her photos printed on glossy paper. Only one detail confirms the subject’s identity: the mole on her right breast, the supermodel’s distinctive feature. Contrasting with the sexy and sexualized photoshoots of the young Kate Moss, her body almost appears heavy here, massively laid down on the mattress and devoid of any sensuality, despite the crude nudity of her position.


Sold for several million dollars in 2003 by Christie’s to an anonymous buyer, the portrait of Kate Moss sealed the beginning of a close friendship. This friendship will remain engraved on the model’s lower back with a tattoo of two swallows drawn by Lucian Freud himself. The model has been joking about this anecdote since the artist’s passing, and suggested in numerous interviews that she would have a skin graft in order to sell it if she ever ran out of cash…


No release date is known yet for the upcoming biopic Moss & Freud.