Pregnant and stripped of glitz, Kate Moss by Freud valued at £3.5m

A union of high art and popular culture is set to make up to £3.5m. A portrait by Lucian Freud of the supermodel Kate Moss - almost unidentifiable in the early stages of pregnancy - is to be sold two years after it was completed.

A union of high art and popular culture is set to make up to £3.5m. A portrait by Lucian Freud of the supermodel Kate Moss - almost unidentifiable in the early stages of pregnancy - is to be sold two years after it was completed.

The auction of Naked Portrait 2002 at Christie's in London will give the public the first opportunity to see the almost life-size, full-length reclining portrait. It will be on show before the 9 February saleof post-war and contemporary art.

"Portraits by Lucian Freud are particularly rare at auction and are highly sought after," a spokesman said.

Freud's most famous sitter was the Queen, but he prefers to paint people he knows well. Although he has painted the model Jerry Hall, also pregnant, he is said to dislike professional models. He told William Feaver, his biographer, that models were often too "hardened" to posing. "They've grown another skin because they've been looked at so much," the artist said.

But it appears that this view softened when Freud learnt that Moss had spoken of her desire to pose for him in an interview for Dazed and Confused magazine, then edited by her boyfriend and the father of her child, Jefferson Hack

Freud began the painting in 2001 when the model's stomach was slightly swollen so as to fix it in paint before her appearance changed as the pregnancy developed. She is almost unrecognisable.

Fernando Mignoni, Christie's modern painting expert, said of the work: "Freud's art, almost fanatically devoted to the appearance of reality, makes a stark and intrusive contrast to the glamour of fame."

Freud is striking in the unsentimental depictions of his sitters. These have included his daughters and his lovers, including the journalist Emily Bearn, who was less than half his age.

Naked Portrait 2002 was acquired shortly after it was painted by an unnamed private collector who has now decided to sell. It was reported when the painting was first unveiled that Moss herself was interested in owning the work.

The last Freud to come up for sale was Factory in North London, which made more than £2m in February at Christie's.

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