Freud's larger-than-life model cuts ITV's Katie down to size
Sunday 18 May 2008
It's been another big week in the art world, and they don't come much bigger than Big Sue. Just don't call her fat. Lucien Freud, 85, became the most expensive living artist at auction on Tuesday when his Benefits Supervisor Sleeping sold for an eye-watering £17.2m at Christie's in New York.
The life-size painting is also known as "Big Sue" after the model Sue Tilley, 51, right, who spent a couple of days a week over nine months posing for the portrait in 1995 and was paid £20 a day.
Ms Tilley, now a job centre manager, is a larger dress size than average, and the painting, which shows her naked and asleep on a sofa, revels in the ample folds of her flesh.
While she has no objection to being "big", Ms Tilley does , however, object to being called "fat", as the ITV1 newsreader Katie Derham discovered to her cost on Wednesday.
Reporting on the sale, Ms Derham introduced Ms Tilley, who was being interviewed live from her home in London, as "Fat Sue".
"I'm not really happy when you call me Fat Sue, because that is not my name," said Ms Tilley. "And I'd appreciate it if you didn't call me that, thank you."
Ms Derham apologised unreservedly. "We thought it was an affectionate nickname given by you," she said. "But if not then you absolutely have the right to pick us up."
"No, it's not." Ms Tilley said.
It's a good job A N Wilson wasn't in the area. On Thursday, he denounced the painting, described by the auctioneers Christie's as "a bold and imposing example of the stark power of Freud's realism", in his Daily Mail column. "Technically accomplished it may be; a pleasure to look at it certainly is not," he said. "Who among us can honestly say they would like it hanging on their drawing room wall? Freud does not merely depict a fat woman, he dwells with sadistic contempt upon flab and folds, and scrubs of hair which might exist in real life or might just be part of the artist's bleak, dark vision."
However, the writer had the grace to add: "The contrast between the real Sue Tilley and the Freud version is striking. Photographs show she is a person of pleasant appearance, though it is obvious that she has not been on one of the Duchess of York's raw carrot and coleslaw diets."
Ms Tilley has declared herself "thrilled" at the sale. "I never weigh myself. I can't be bothered," she said.
Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year
TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 Tory activist asked to step down after Labour candidate Rupa Huq is 'manhandled' while questioning Boris Johnson on the campaign trail
- 5 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
The C-Word, TV review: Sheridan Smith shines in a warm, honest account of a woman enduring a still too common fate
X-Men Apocalypse: First look at Jubilee and Jean Grey played by Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner
American Horror Story: Hotel Angela Bassett set to make 'lots of trouble' with Lady Gaga in season 5
Adam Sandler's The Ridiculous Six: Make-up 'used to darken skin of actors to make them look Native American'
The highly NSFW poster for Gaspar Noé's Love makes Nymphomaniac look like 50 Shades
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils