Iain Gale on exhibitions

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It is always refreshing when a provincial gallery pulls off a coup and the Abbot Hall Gallery's current Lucian Freud show in Kendall, Cumbria, is just that. While in many ways a thinned-out version of the hugely successful 1992 exhibition which toured Japan, this can hardly be called a major retrospective - around 40 paintings in all. What we do have here, though, is an attractive and well-selected exhibition which neatly charts the career of the painter acclaimed by some as our "greatest living artist".

It is hardly surprising that a number of the pictures should seem like old friends. Here is Girl in a Green Dress Freud's early 1953 exploration of isolation. Here, too, are the startling Girl with Roses from the British Council Collection and Reflection (self-portrait) of 1985. But the show also contains some lesser-known works, and it is these, together with its overall succinctness, which are its chief attractions. Several works have been lent by Freud's great patron, the Duke of Devonshire, while others have come from obscure and unaccredited sources. Look out in particular for Box of Apples, in Wales, painted in 1939 at the tender age of 17, and other early pieces. There is also a nice, small study from the Sixties of the photographer John Deakin, himself the subject of a recent exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. If you thought you knew all about what Freud has to offer, then think again and make the trip to Cumbria. You will not be disappointed.

Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendall, Cumbria 01539 722464 until 8 Sept

Left: detail from Lucian Freud's 'Girl Sitting in the Attic Doorway', 1995

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