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IMMA presents The Artist’s Mother, an exhibition by Chantal Joffe inspired by Lucian Freud’s paintings of his mother

IMMA launches today The Artist’s Mother, the latest project in response to the IMMA Collection: Freud Project 2016-2021. Inspired by Lucian Freud’s paintings of his mother, Lucie, this is the first presentation which interweaves digital and physical elements. Central to the project is the work of artist Chantal Joffe who has portrayed her mother, Daryll, in an exceptional series of paintings and pastels.

The exhibition The Artist’s Mother: Lucie and Daryll is the first time IMMA combines both a gallery display in the Freud Centre, alongside a digitally installed exhibition in a new virtual gallery space. In this series of 15 portraits, 6 in dialogue with Lucian Freud in the gallery and 13 in the virtual gallery space, with some of the portraits been shown in both spaces, Chantal Joffe provides insights into the unique bond between mother-subject and artist-child.

At the centre of this conversation are two of Freud’s most outstanding portraits of his mother The Painter’s Mother Reading (1975) and Painter’s Mother Resting I (1976), which form part of the Freud Project. The encounter is further explored online through conversations and contributions by poet Annie Freud, Lucian’s eldest daughter. The project also includes a series of 22 specially produced short videos with artists, writers and creatives in various reflections on the theme of the mother, entitled The Maternal Gaze.

IMMA invited Chantal Joffe to engage with Lucian Freud’s portraits of his mother, Lucie Brasch (1896-1989), who left Berlin in 1933 to make a new life in England with her family. Like Lucie Freud, Joffe’s mother Daryll, herself was an exile who arrived in England aged 23 years old.

Freud produced no fewer than 13 paintings of his mother as well as numerous drawings. He stated that he could only paint his mother after she became ill, when she was no longer interested in him following the death of Lucian’s father, Ernst, in 1970.

Chantal Joffe likewise returned to painting her mother when in old age, after she began to lose her sight.

“My mum has quite bad sight now – which is a hard thing to say because it became easier to paint her because she couldn’t then see the paintings. It’s complicated,” she says, she is only truly seen when she can no longer see me or how I paint her”.

Christina Kennedy, Head of Collections, IMMA said

This show provides a focus for contemporary discussions of motherhood, focusing particularly on the complex relationship between mother and child over time. Both Freud and Joffe are drawn by the intensity of this bond, and especially the difficulty of seeing the real woman with adult eyes”.

The Artist’s Mother presents videos, essays, texts and talks, to form a fascinating compilation of images, writing and voices that explore the role of mothers and carers in our lives, the bonds of creativity and intellect in the context of contemporary discussions of motherhood.

The exhibition is presented via Vortic ( or Vortic Collect in the App Store) and is the first time IMMA has digitally installed a virtual exhibition, made possible thanks to collaboration with Victoria Miro who represent Chantal Joffe. The virtual presentation can also be viewed via the Vortic Collect XR app for iPad and iPhone users to view how artworks would look in-situ, using augmented reality. IMMA is the first museum to utilise Vortic and has welcomed the opportunity to explore new ways of presenting work to the public.

3 March 2021

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For further information and images please contact: Monica Cullinane, [email protected], Patrice Molloy, [email protected]


Additional Notes for Editors

The Artist’s Mother Project details:
Curated by: Christina Kennedy, Senior Curator: Head of Collections, IMMA.

Exhibition: The Artist’s Mother: Lucie and Daryll
Date 3 March – 8 August 2021
Virtual Exhibition – available to view at
Gallery display – will be available to visit in the Freud Centre when current Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

Annie Freud’s Response
The Artist’s Mother is further explored through Chantal Joffe’s conversations with poet Annie Freud, Lucian’s eldest daughter. Freud recites her poem, Hiddensee (2019), which reflects on the impact on Lucie, mother of a young family who with her husband Ernst was forced to flee Germany ahead of the rise of Nazism and her adjustment to a new life in England. Annie Freud also presents her essay, In the Picture – The Life and Cultural Milieu of Lucie Freud and her influence on her son Lucian Freud, 2021.

The Maternal Gaze Video Series
The Maternal Gaze is a series of 22 specially produced short videos with artists, writers and creatives in various reflections on the theme of the mother. Utilising vox pop style videos and short films, participants answered IMMA’s invitation to reflect on the impact of their mother-figure on their career practice and development. The first video in The Maternal Gaze series will be available on Tuesday 9 March.

IMMA Talks
The IMMA Talks programme connects The Artist’s Mother: Lucie and Daryll, with themes that open up a conversation between Lucian Freud and Chantal Joffe’s works, as they are presented side by side in the gallery and online.

The programme commences in April 2021, with a live streamed conversation, chaired by Christina Kennedy (Head of Collections, IMMA), who invites Chantal Joffe and Katy Hessel (curator, writer and broadcaster) to discuss Joffe’s ‘mother’ series within the context of the artist’s wider studio practice. While in June 2021, join Annie Freud (poet) and Amah-Rose McNight Abrams (arts and cultural journalist) for a live streamed presentation that reflects their ongoing fascination with the subject of the artist’s mother from past to present, taking us on a visual journey across a range of art historical works, to explore shared and diverging interests.

The IMMA Talks programme connects The Artist’s Mother with themes in the upcoming exhibition, entitled Mother! at the Louisiana Museum, Denmark, which will situate the work of Lucian Freud and Chantal Joffe in the context of this major survey exhibition on the theme of Motherhood, viewed through changing notions of art and culture in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Details of the IMMA Talks programme will be made available at

About Chantal Joffe
Born in Vermont in 1969 and now living in London, Chantal Joffe has long focused on portraiture, her sitters met in the flesh or on the page. Her slow and continuous process of reading, looking and watching is followed by gestures in paint or pastel which are fluid and immediate and capture a psychological sense of the sitter’s feelings and experience. 

Joffe holds an MA from the Royal College of Art and was awarded the Royal Academy Wollaston Prize in 2006. Joffe has exhibited nationally and internationally with venues including Arnolfini, Bristol (2020); The Lowry. Salford (2018); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2018); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2018, 2017); National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavík (2016); National Portrait Gallery, London (2015); Jewish Museum, New York (2015); Jerwood Gallery, Hastings (2015); Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia, Italy (2014–2015); Saatchi Gallery, London (2013–2014); MODEM, Hungary (2012); Mackintosh Museum, Glasgow (2012); Turner Contemporary, Margate (2011). Joffe has recently created a major new work for the Elizabeth Line station at Whitechapel and is represented by Victoria Miro.

About Annie Freud
Annie Freud is a poet, painter, editor, teacher and translator. She is the author of five collections of poetry, the first being A Voids Officer Achieves the Tree Pose published by Donut Press, a time when she was a frequent performer at public events.

Subsequently four of her collections were published by Picador, the most recent being Hiddensee, 2019. Her first collection, The Best Man the Ever Was, won the Dimplex Prize for New Writing (Poetry Section) and The Mirabelles was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize 2015. In 2014, Annie Freud was selected by the Poetry Book Society as one of the Next Generation Poets. She leads a long-lived poetry composition group in Cattistock, Dorset, her home for the last twelve years. She is renowned for her live performances. During the last six years Annie Freud has made a number of paintings, working in oils for the first time; her work in this medium have enriched her practice in unexpected ways.