This was a touching & interesting story from the recent Vanity Fair article, The Riddle of Kate Moss by James Fox.
Kate & Bella Freud
"In 2002, when Moss was pregnant with her child, by the magazine editor Jefferson Hack, she sat for the painter Lucian Freud. It came about, she says, because she did a questionnaire in i-D magazine. “It was like, Who haven’t you met that you’d really love to meet? And I said Lucian Freud. And within two days—I think Bella must have read it and told Lucian—she said, ‘My dad wants to meet you.’ And I was ‘Oh, my God!’ Bella said, ‘He just wants to go for dinner with you. Don’t be late.’ So I went to the house. She took me to the studio, and he started that night. Couldn’t say no to Lucian. Very persuasive. And I phoned Bella the next day and said, ‘How long is it going to take?’ She said, ‘How big is the canvas?’ I said, ‘It’s quite big.’ She said, ‘Oh dear, could take six months to a year.’ ”
Kate Moss by Lucian Freud, oil on canvas, 2002 - Private Collection
Freud demanded rigorous punctuality. The sessions were from seven P.M. to two A.M. three times a week, and toward the end, near to Lila’s birth, four times a week. Moss never missed a session. Less well known than the portrait that emerged is the fact that Freud tattooed Moss on her haunch, the upper part of her right buttock. Moss shows the tattoo to me in a restaurant, in a small outside smoking area at lunchtime—an extraordinary existential moment.
“Yeah!” she says. “He told me about when he was in the navy, when he was 19 or something, and he used to do all of the tattoos for the sailors. And I went, ‘Oh, my God, that’s amazing.’ And he went, ‘I can do you one. What would you like?’ I was like, ‘Really?’ He said, ‘Would you like creatures of the animal kingdom?’ I said, ‘I like birds.’ And he said, ‘I’ve done birds. I’ve got it in my book.’ And he pointed at a painting of a chicken upside down in a bucket. And I said, ‘No, I’m not having that.’ And then he said, ‘Maybe I should just do you.’ I thought, I’m not going to have a girl on my … So we decided to do a flock of birds. I mean, it’s an original Lucian Freud. I wonder how much a collector would pay for that? A few million? I’d skin-graft it. I think we should talk to [the art dealer William] Acquavella.”
There’s a moving photograph of a very pale, soon-to-die Freud lying in bed with Moss, his arm around her, taken by Freud’s assistant, the artist David Dawson, in 2010. “I went round with Jamie, and I took all these flowers, those little ones he loved, and we went over, and he was in bed, and he pulled back the covers and went, ‘I’ve been keeping it warm for you’. And I went, ‘Jamie’s here.’ And he went, ‘Oh, I see.’ He did like Jamie, though. I love that picture in the bed. It was Jamie’s suggestion that we take it. And I just got under his arm. Jamie’s in the reflection, sitting on the windowsill. Lucian was always really kind. I adored him.”