Reviews

  • "Her story is striking. It is not, as has been assumed, the tale of a muse who later became a painter, but an account of a painter who, for ten years of her early life, found herself mistaken for a muse, by a man who did that a lot. Her book is about many things besides Freud: her mother, her childhood, her sisters, her paintings. But she neither rejects her past with Freud nor rewrites it... One of the subtle methods of this crafty book is insinuation, creating new feminist genealogies and hierarchies by implication... [A] powerful little book... What else will we start to see now the mist of misogyny begins to clear? Self-Portrait will go some way to clearing that mist from the world of portraiture."

    New York Review of Books
  • "A poetic, sometimes painfully honest memoir."

    Observer
  • "Self-Portrait made me think of two recent, elliptical autobiographical projects that refuse to conform to traditional notions of intimate disclosure: Rachel Cusk’s autofiction trilogy… and Joanna Hogg’s film The Souvenir… Like Cusk and Hogg, Paul plays with the balance between confession and dispassion. In their different ways, all three are challenging our ideas about how autobiography works. There’s something tremendously refreshing about Paul’s lack of sensationalism… Self-Portrait is both the obvious extension of Paul’s oeuvre, and a powerful, urgent and essential depiction of what it is to be a woman artist."

    Daily Telegraph
  • "I loved the painter Celia Paul’s memoir Self-Portrait. It’s fascinating for its account of her long-term lover Lucian Freud (he emerges as the ultimate man-baby, by turns charismatic, needy and breathtakingly selfish), but it’s also painfully honest on what it means to be a woman who puts art first, no matter what."

    Olivia Laing, New Statesman
  • "[I was] very unprepared for the raw honesty and openness of this memoir... Among Freud’s myriad relations, lovers and friends, none can have brought a reader so close to him, none can have detailed so tellingly the fluctuating dynamic of magnetism and despair, the assertion of will in the face of domination. Paul tells with brilliant immediacy the story of their first meeting, her reluctance, her fascination, her gradual succumbing. It is tender, exciting, touching and never prurient... Their ten-year relationship is told unflinchingly, without rancour or self-pity... Although this book will doubtless be cited in the bibliography of every book on Freud, it will more rightfully take its place at the top of the bibliography of every book on Celia Paul."

    Honor Clerk, Spectator