Last Thursday saw the opening of the Lucian Freud exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery, and one important guest among those celebrating the life and works of this outstanding artist was the leading lady herself, the Duchess of Cambridge, who was out on her first solo royal engagement.

It’s a dramatic backdrop; a grand and elegant building encasing the awe-inspiring treasures and stories of an institution which houses such portraits as Henry VIII to Daniel Radcliffe and everything in between.

Kate arrived looking radiant as ever in a classic finely tailored grey dress coat by now-defunct label Jesiré. In my opinion she made a wise decision to not overdress for the occasion and go for eveningwear and instead opted for smart elegance in fine tailoring. She was successful in creating a very polished look with diamond jewellery and black Jimmy Choo Cosmics. The Jimmy Choos brought the outfit nicely into the realms of dressed-up sophistication by adding an air of glamour to an otherwise quite safe outfit. The grey dress coat must have been in Kate’s wardrobe for some time, given that it is by Jesiré, a label which no longer exists, which suggests she had been saving it for such an occasion. Even a Duchess sometimes has an outfit that she has to wait for an occasion to wear.

The exhibition itself is hotly anticipated in the art world, as Lucian Freud was one of the most important and influential artists of his generation. Known mostly for his pieces involving human subjects, depicting not only the sitter’s physical attributes but also their emotions and thoughts, Lucian had clearly inherited his grandfather’s fascination with the human mind.

Freud archives

The focus of the exhibition is on different clusters of sitters and different periods of time, documenting the artist’s stylistic and personal development over the course of his career. Many are very insightful paintings of those who were close to him throughout his life, and referred to as the ‘people in my life.’ The collection compromises over 130 pieces from museums worldwide as well as private collections, many of which have never been publicly displayed. Included in this is the painting ‘Benefits Supervisor Sleeping’ which was sold in Christie’s New York in 2008 for the most money ever for a piece of art by a living artist.

Freud archives

The Lucian Freud exhibition is on at the National Portrait Gallery until the 27th May 2012.

Jessica Allen-Summers

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