Martin Gayford is an art critic and the author of studies of Constable and Van Gogh. In 2003 he offered to sit for a portrait by Lucian Freud, whom he had known both professionally and as a friend for ten years. This book is composed of reflections and memories of the ensuing eighteen months, during which Freud completed two portraits: the oil painting Man in a Blue Scarf and an etching. Throughout the sittings Gayford kept notes on his own thoughts, Freud's technique, conversations over dinner, the studio, and other sitters. He describes the result as a ‘painting of my own fascination with the whole process of being painted’, and ‘a sort of accidental self-portrait’, but it is also an impressionistic attempt to capture something of the essence of the mercurial Freud.
The book is written for the lay person and is thus mercifully free of the waffle so beloved of certain art critics (you know the sort of stuff: ‘Albright’s work, though concerned – obsessed? – with death and mutability, was not the product of a nihilistic materialism, but