Artist updates Freud's 'Girl with Roses', 60 years on

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She was first immortalised in paint nearly 60 years ago by her husband, Lucian Freud, in works such as Girl with White Dog and Girl with Roses.

Now Kitty Garman is 80 and has been captured once more on canvas. Kitty, by Andrew Tift, has been shortlisted for the BP Portrait Prize, worth £25,000, at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

The sitter, herself an artist, is a daughter of the sculptor Jacob Epstein and Kathleen Garman, an art collector who gave many works to her home borough of Walsall in 1972. Kitty was married to Freud from 1948 to 1953 and is the mother of two of his daughters, Annie and Annabel.

Tift, 37, who lives in Walsall, had seen Ms Garman at the town's New Art Gallery, which houses her mother's bequest. Eager to paint someone with such strong local connections, he asked whether she would sit for him and she agreed.

Though others might have felt intimidated at painting a subject already tackled by one of Britain's finest portraitists, Tift said: "I hadn't thought about it from that angle. The reason I painted it was because Kitty's family were originally from the Walsall area. I went down to see her, taking a lot of photographs and did some sketches. She looks fantastic. She's got a great face. I love painting older people, because they're more interesting."

Though wary of exposing Ms Garman to too much attention because she is frail and recovering from a fall, Tift said she approved of the finished work. "She really likes it," he said. The work shortlisted for the BP is a triptych, pictured right, but only part of a series of works which will be shown in an exhibition at the New Art Gallery Walsall next year.

Whether the triptych will bring him success is another matter. Tift has been exhibited in the BP prize show 10 times and shortlisted on four occasions. "I do sometimes feel a bit like [the tennis player] Tim Henman - nearly getting there," he said.

Two other artists have been shortlisted for this year's award, which is in its 27th year. Angela Reilly, 39, from Glasgow, has submitted a self-portrait and Rafael Rodrigruez, 29, from Mexico, is showing Model 1. They have been chosen from a record 1,113 entries, of which 56 will go on display on 15 June.

Reilly said of her work: "You've got to become detached from yourself, but at the same time, if you're trying to get some sort of personality into the painting, you've got to pull yourself into it. You feel very exposed because you're open to criticism both about your technical ability and from a vanity perspective."

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