Never-before-seen works of one of Britain’s most treasured artists, Lucian Freud, have opened at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Lucian Freud Unseen combines a collection of drawings (including a self portrait by Freud himself), that have never been seen by the public – and those on display are just a selection of those discovered in his once-hidden sketchbooks, on 7 July. A National Portrait Gallery book will be published, containing a larger selection of his drawings. The precious drawings were allocated to the National Portrait Gallery under the acceptance in lieu scheme.

The drawings have been completed in a range of media: watercolour, pencil, charcoal, pastel and pen and ink. Some of the illustrations are connected to several of Freud’s major works, including a drawing of Lady Caroline Blackwood that corresponds with Freud’s 1954 masterpiece Hotel Bedroom; another is a precursor to Large Interior, W11 (after Watteau), 1981-3.

Also in the sketchbooks are several recognizable sitters, his fondness for birds and trees that would become familiar motifs in his work, and, pictured, a sketch of the cover for his daughter, Esther Freud’s, seminal novel, Hideous Kinky (later turned in to a film starring Kate Winslet).

Alongside Freud’s work, the display includes the artist represented as a sitter in a sculpture by Sir Jacob Epstein, drawings by Frank Auerbach and David Hockney, and a number of photographs, letters and correspondences.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, told ArtDaily: ‘I am delighted that a selection from this important and extensive archive, of the sketchbooks and letters of Lucian Freud, together with the self-portrait fragment, is now on display at the National Portrait Gallery.’

Sarah Howgate, Senior Curator, Contemporary Collections, National Portrait Gallery, and the curator of Lucian Freud Portraits, the last exhibition of his works exhibited at the gallery in 2012, says: ‘This exciting and extensive body of valuable material will greatly expand our holdings of works by Freud in our Collection and help us to further understand the studio practice of an artist whose focus and preoccupation was the portrait.’

The  exhibition will run until 6 September 2016.

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