Lucian Freud & His Rat

When I was a child I kept a pet rat. It wasn't much bigger than a mouse and mostly lived on my shoulder. I would go for walks with it nestling under my hair; it was a great comfort to me. When I was a young teen the pet rat trend caught on in my family and my father decided to get one too. He didn't really go in for pets for the sake of pets, and the rat soon featured in a painting.
Recently I spent time in the National Portrait Gallery archives, looking at some of the 47 sketch books our family donated after our father's death in 2011. Carys, the archivist there, showed me a photograph they had, which seemed to have sneaked in among the drawing books. It was this snap of dad looking incredibly glamorous, with his rat on his shoulder.

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