Elizabeth Lowry at The Guardian:
In 1995 the art critic David Sylvester caused a stir by suggesting in the Guardian that Lucian Freud – by then 73 and widely acknowledged as a major figurative British artist – was “not a real painter”. Freud, Sylvester wrote, lacked natural talent but had achieved his success through “a huge effort of will applied to the realisation of a highly personal and searching vision of the world”. Was Sylvester right? It’s pretty obvious from the clenched distortions of Freud’s apprentice portraits that his innate weaknesses contributed as much as his strengths to the development of a distinctive approach. Nor was he, in the course of a 70-year career, ever much interested in composition, disliking the element of stagecraft involved. And yet somehow the result of a lifetime of ferocious application was a style that is as singular as that of Rembrandt or Frans Hals.