Saturday 28 May 2022 10:28 AM Surely they didn't... did they? RICHARD KAY poses the tantalising question trends now
They were hardly the embodiment of love’s young dream: he stooped, scruffy in paint-spattered trousers with a thin scarf tied loosely at his neck; she blonde, stylish and though pregnant unmistakably the elfin face that adorned countless magazine covers.
Yet for a few heady weeks exactly 20 years ago, Lucian Freud and the model Kate Moss were an inseparable, if unlikely, couple — dancing at Annabel’s, dining a deux in fashionable restaurants and sitting up late into the night as artist and muse.
Their collaboration produced one of the most startling portraits of Freud’s long career. His near life-size, full-length study portrayed Moss not as a waif-like supermodel but as a physically imposing, pregnant woman reclining naked on a bed.
It also triggered a flood of rumours and speculation about the nature of the relationship between the womanising roué and hedonistic party girl. Such was Freud’s reputation, not even the age gap of 51 years prevented some of the more lascivious gossip. At the time he was 79 and Kate just 28.
In fact, the attraction was mutual, with Moss later describing Freud as ‘the most interesting person’ she had ever met.
Close: Moss comforts Freud as he recovers from a freak accident
Now, two decades on, the model has agreed to a film being made about the intimacy that grew between her and Freud, who died in 2011 aged 88. Perhaps to ensure artistic integrity , she is acting as executive producer.
The story, called simply Moss & Freud, is being made by screenwriter and director James Lucas, who in 2015 won an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film, The Phone Call.
‘Sitting for Lucian was an honour and an incredible experience,’ Moss says. ‘After watching The Phone Call, I knew that James would convey the emotion in the storytelling in a fitting way, one this memoir deserves.
‘Having been involved in the project and script development from the beginning, I am now very excited to see the film come to life.’
No word yet on who will play the principal characters.
So far so intriguing. For the model who hardly ever gives interviews, the bio-pic promises to offer a rare glimpse into Moss’s notoriously private world.
Earlier this week she shed a little more light on that privacy when she publicly defended her former boyfriend Johnny Depp during the actor’s defamation trial.
Appearing as a witness by video link, she denied a claim that he had once pushed her down a flight of stairs.
The mid-1990s romance with Depp was already over and Moss was pregnant with her daughter, Lila Grace, when she was unexpectedly drawn into the bohemian milieu of Britain’s greatest living artist, who was rumoured to have had as many as 500 lovers — a number to compare with even the most accomplished of Hollywood heart-throbs.
Mutual affection: The pair meeting in a London street in 2003
If she was concerned that many of Freud’s female subjects were often his romantic partners, or became his lovers after sitting for him, she did not say.
A ruthless seducer with no interest in conventional family life, Freud acknowledged 14 children by six women —although some have estimated that he may have fathered as many as 40.
Kate was not the first pregnant fashionista whom the artist had committed to canvas. He had been equally fixated on Mick Jagger’s Texas-born ex-wife, Jerry Hall, and painted her when she was eight months pregnant with her fourth child.
But, infuriated by her lack of punctuality for their sittings, he erased her from his portrait of her breastfeeding baby Gabriel.
His response to her sloppy time-keeping was both amusing and cruel, replacing Hall’s head — while retaining her body — with that of his assistant, David Dawson.
Moss, brought up on the strict rules of modelling time-sheets, was never likely to insult the artist by missing appointments as Jerry had.
As Freud himself later said of their partnership: ‘She was late only in the way that girls are, sort of 18 minutes late. I was cross but tried to ignore it. I used other means to get her on time, like sending someone to fetch her.’
So how did they get together? And why did Freud, who preferred not to paint famous people, fall for the charms of the model who was at the height of her celebrity?
He had, after all, declined to depict Princess Diana, claiming that he could not get past her ‘sheen of glamour’.
To his eyes, well-known people become ‘hardened’ as though they had ‘grown another skin because they’ve been looked at so much’.
For the same reason, he declined to paint the Pope.
With Moss, however, he was as intrigued as much by her hard-partying reputation as for her fame and glamour.
She was also wildly unpredictable, just like Freud.
‘I liked her company,’ he told his biographer, Geordie Greig. ‘She was . . . full of surprising behaviour.’
In fact, the seeds of this very unusual coupling began long before Moss set foot in Freud’s West London studio. In an interview with the style magazine Dazed and Confused, edited at the time by Moss’s boyfriend Jefferson Hack (and later the father of her