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Loewenberg, P. (2004). Lucian and Sigmund Freud. Am. Imago, 61(1):89-99.

(2004). American Imago, 61(1):89-99

Lucian and Sigmund Freud

Peter Loewenberg

“A little different from reality: the difference that we make in what we see.”

—Wallace Stevens, “Description without Place”

William Feaver, the curator to whom we are grateful for his prodigious labors in realizing this grand retrospective for us, gave an opening presentation in this hall that I would like to use as a backdrop and counterpoise for my remarks. Feaver went to substantial and repeated lengths to stress that Lucian Freud “did not grow up in the shadow of psychoanalysis.” “Categorically, there was very little influence of Sigmund Freud.” He said that Lucian Freud and psychoanalysis “are poles apart.” He told us, as if to diminish the association, that Lucian Freud read his grandfather's book on jokes. But Sigmund Freud's Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious (1905) is not a trivial or minor work. It is in fact a major work of social science of which James Strachey (1960) wrote: “The book is full of fascinating material, much of which reappears in no other of Freud's writings. The detailed accounts it contains of complicated psychological processes have no rivals outside The Interpretation of Dreams, and it is indeed a product of the same burst of genius which gave us that great work” (8).

Lucian Freud, born in 1922, is the middle of Ernst and Lucy Freud's three sons. Ernst, who lived from 1892 to 1970, was the fourth of Sigmund and Martha Freud's six children and the third of their three sons. Lucian knew his grandfather in a number of contexts. When he was a boy his grandfather periodically came to Berlin to visit, undergo cancer treatments, and stay at the psychoanalytic sanatorium Schloss Tegel run by Ernst Simmel (Peck 1966, 374).

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