Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait Relief of Sigmund Freud 1956

Peter Lambda 

Portrait Relief of Sigmund Freud, Peter Lambda
Zoom
Bronze
20th Century
33.5 x 26.3 cm 13 1/4 x 10 1/4 inches
 
Provenance:
Peter Lambda Studio sale 13th May 1998
The sculptor Peter Lambda was a personal friend of Freud from their time in Vienna, when his mother had been one of Freud's pupils. He is best known for the portraits of actors which he produced in the 1950s, including busts of such sitters as Laurence Olivier and Dorothy Dickinson, but the sense of personality and concentration in the present relief make it a work of a quite different intensity. Although the work is, of course, posthumous it derives from sittings Freud gave to Lambda in 1938.

Sigmund Freud was born in Frieberg, Moravia in 1856, but when he was four years old his family moved to Vienna, where Freud was to live and work until the last year of his life. In 1937 the Nazis annexed Austria, and Freud, who was Jewish, was allowed to leave for England. For these reasons, it was above all with the city of Vienna that Freud's name was destined to be deeply associated for posterity, founding as he did what was to become known as the ''first Viennese school'' of psychoanalysis, from which, it is fair to say, psychoanalysis as a movement and all subsequent developments in this field flowed. The scope of Freud's interests, and of his professional training, was very broad - he always considered himself first and foremost a scientist, endeavouring to extend the compass of human knowledge, and to this end (rather than to the practice of medicine) he enrolled at the medical school at the University of Vienna in 1873. He concentrated initially on biology, doing research in physiology for six years under the great German scientist Ernst Brücke, who was director of the Physiology Laboratory at the University, thereafter specialising in neurology. He received his medical degree in 1881, and having become engaged to be married in 1882, he rather reluctantly took up more secure and financially rewarding work as a doctor at Vienna General Hospital. Shortly after his marriage in 1886 - which was extremely happy, and gave Freud six children, the youngest of whom, Anna, was herself to become a distinguished psychoanalyst - Freud set up a private practice in the treatment of psychological disorders, which gave him much of the clinical material on which he based his theories and his pioneering techniques. In 1885-86 Freud spent the greater part of a year in Paris, where he was deeply impressed by the work of the French neurologist Jean Charcot, who was at that time using hypnotism to treat hysteria and other abnormal mental conditions. When he returned to Vienna, Freud experimented with hypnosis, but found that its beneficial effects did not last. At this point he decided to adopt instead a method suggested by the work of an older Viennese colleague and friend, Josef Breuer, who had discovered that when he encouraged a hysterical patient to talk uninhibitedly about the earliest occurrences of the symptoms, the latter sometimes gradually abated. Working with Breuer, Freud formulated and developed the idea that many neuroses (phobias, hysterical paralyses and pains, some forms of paranoia, etc.) had their origins in deeply traumatic experiences which had occurred in the past life of the patient but which were now forgotten, hidden from consciousness; the treatment was to enable the patient to recall the experience to consciousness, to confront it in a deep way both intellectually and emotionally, and in thus discharging it, to remove the underlying psychological causes of the neurotic symptoms. This technique, and the theory from which it is derived, was given its classical expression in Studies in Hysteria, jointly published by Freud and Breuer in 1895. Shortly thereafter, however, Breuer, found that he could not agree with what he regarded as the excessive emphasis which Freud placed upon the sexual origins and content of neuroses, and the two parted company, with Freud continuing to work alone to develop and refine the theory and practice of psychoanalysis. In 1900, after a protracted period of self-analysis, he published The Interpretation of Dreams, which is generally regarded as his greatest work, and this was followed in 1901 by The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, and in 1905 by Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. Freud''s psychoanalytic theory was initially not well received - when its existence was acknowledged at all it was usually by people who were, as Breuer had foreseen, scandalised by the emphasis placed on sexuality by Freud - and it was not until 1908, when the first International Psychoanalytical Congress was held at Salzburg, that Freud's importance began to be generally recognised. This was greatly facilitated in 1909, when he was invited to give a course of lectures in the United States, which were to form the basis of his 1916 book Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis. From this point on Freud's reputation and fame grew enormously, and he continued to write prolifically until his death, producing in all more than twenty volumes of theoretical works and clinical studies. He was also not adverse to critically revising his views, or to making fundamental alterations to his most basic principles when he considered that the scientific evidence demanded it - this was most clearly evidenced by his advancement of a completely new tripartite (id, ego, and super-ego) model of the mind in his 1923 work The Ego and the Id. He was initially greatly heartened by attracting followers of the intellectual calibre of Adler and Jung, and was correspondingly disappointed personally when they both went on to found rival schools of psychoanalysis - thus giving rise to the first two of many schisms in the movement - but he knew that such disagreement over basic principles had been part of the early development of every new science. After a life of remarkable vigour and creative productivity, he died of cancer in England in 1939.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.