The Exposure of Women in Art: Girl with a White Dog

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Girl with a White Dog - Lucian Freud
Lucian Freud, Girl with a White Dog, 1951
The Exposure of Women in Art 


The “free the nipple” movement promotes the ability of women to show their breasts as freely as men. Women posted nude photos of themselves on social media, but instead of showing their own nipples they photoshopped male nipples on, criticizing the legal vs. illegal nipple. The society proposed illegality of nipples arises from both sexes, in fact, women participate in the shaming. Miley Cyrus is quoted saying “have you seen those nipples?” as either a slam on Kim Kardashian’s body, or possibly complimenting her on her openness. Although many people insist that a woman’s breast should remain within the confines of her clothing, Lucian Freud openly paints the most disturbing of nudes. 

Girl with a White Dog appears highly explicit, but Freud might consider its contents modest. Although many artists glorify the nude, Freud chooses to paint the realities of the human body. Freud’s nudes do not acknowledge the “illegality” insisted on by society, in fact he defies any restriction society could possibly put on the painting of a nude. In this painting, Freud paints his first wife, Kitty, during her pregnancy. Freud’s paintings typically include a “psychological revelation,” this one having to do with the birth of his child. Kitty’s eyes stare off in a sleepy haze, not actually looking at anything. 

The presence of the dog symbolizes the fidelity, guidance, and comfort that comes along with having a child. Her breast can be viewed in multiple ways, either a symbol of motherhood or eroticism. Breasts symbolize motherhood because of their link with caregiving, but the sexual implications of the painting arise more obviously. People immediately link the naked body with sex, as well as her attire. It is questionable why Freud would choose to paint his wife in her robe, as if just completing a sexual act, rather than glorifying her beauty. Freud’s promotion of the freedom of a woman and her body does not coincide with societal views during this time period. He advocates for women’s rights to their body and self-expression through his art work. 

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