The Sigmund Freud Museum Attracts Consideration to Psychological Well being

LONDON — It might be essentially the most well-known sofa in human historical past.

The divan on which Sigmund Freud acquired some 500 sufferers sits within the London dwelling the place he spent the final yr of his life after his escape from Nazi-occupied Vienna. It’s formed like a chaise longue, with a Persian rug laid over it. Freud would sit in a chair beside it to keep away from eye contact together with his affected person, surrounded by books, vintage vessels and statuettes.

That storied piece of furnishings is the centerpiece of the Freud Museum because it opened in 1986 inside a big brick home within the leafy north London space of Hampstead. The home and its contents have been meticulously preserved by Freud’s daughter Anna, a pioneer of kid psychoanalysis who lived and labored there till her loss of life in 1982. Shortly earlier than, she offered the land and constructing to a charity with the stipulation {that a} museum be established in her father’s title.

“When individuals enter the museum, it’s the sofa that they wish to see: It’s virtually like a sacred secular relic,” mentioned Giuseppe Albano, the museum’s director since July, who beforehand ran the ultimate dwelling of the poet John Keats in Rome.

He described the divan as “a magnet for guests from all around the world,” and mentioned they have been drawn, above all, to “the human tales linked with it.”

Mr. Albano defined that the museum was particularly related at present. Folks in all places have been more and more involved about their psychological well being, notably within the aftermath of the pandemic, and Freud was a central determine within the improvement of remedy and psychoanalysis. The museum is seeking to construct up its connections with world audiences by growing digital instruments resembling digital actuality, augmented actuality and immersive movies, and dealing with the Institute for Digital Archaeology (based mostly in Oxford, England), will produce upcoming occasions for it.

When Freud first moved into the home together with his household in September 1938, he was proud of it. Apart from being “very stunning,” he wrote, it was “gentle, snug, spacious.” There, he loved nice moments together with his household, each indoors and within the backyard, and met such luminaries as Salvador Dalí and Virginia Woolf, who printed his books in English.

But the home additionally tells the heartbreaking story of Freud’s escape from the Nazis, of his displacement, and of his agonizing battle with most cancers.

The go to begins within the eating room, which is dominated by the well-known portrait of Freud in a three-piece go well with, cigar in hand. On one other wall are 4 smaller black-and-white pictures that present Freud’s condo at Berggasse 19 in Vienna in September 1938, three months after he and his household fled to Britain. The photographs have been taken by a younger photographer named Edmund Engelman who had the harmful mission of capturing these final views of the condo.

One of many photographs exhibits a banner emblazoned with a swastika hanging over the outside entrance to the constructing. Others present the inside of the Freud condo: the well-known rug-draped sofa, lined with blankets and a pillow, and cabinets, vitrines and commodes filled with books and antiquities.

A show subsequent door recollects the Freuds’ dramatic escape from Vienna. There’s a tax certificates detailing the quantity they paid to safe permission to depart; a letter from the British Residence Workplace authorizing Freud to observe psychoanalysis in London; and images of the journey from Vienna to Paris to London on the Orient Categorical.

“The sensation of triumph on being liberated is just too strongly blended with sorrow,” Freud wrote in a letter instantly after departure, “for finally I nonetheless significantly liked the jail from which I’ve been launched.”

Close by show instances doc the final yr of Freud’s life. Alongside his trademark spherical eyeglasses, his marriage ceremony ring, and his overcoat are poignant objects linked to his sickness.

A lifelong smoker, Freud was recognized with most cancers in 1923 and underwent 33 painful operations. He subsequently wore a prosthetic jaw that’s now on outstanding show, subsequent to the wood garments pins that he used to maintain his mouth open. The ache grew to become so excruciating that Freud died, proper there in his research, of assisted suicide: a morphine injection ended his life — three weeks after the outbreak of World Warfare II.

Freud had many descendants. Essentially the most outstanding amongst them was the painter Lucian Freud, who was born 100 years in the past this yr, and died in 2011. To mark the centenary, an exhibition has been staged on the Freud Museum by the writer and critic Martin Gayford (who sat for Freud, has written extensively about him, and simply co-edited a guide of his letters titled “Love Lucian: The Letters of Lucian Freud, 1939-1954”). The exhibition is all about Lucian Freud’s relationship together with his household.

Solely 16 when his grandfather died, Lucian Freud was “very fond” of him, Mr. Gayford mentioned, although “he didn’t learn his work.”

Within the exhibition catalog, Mr. Gayford quotes the artist as saying that his grandfather “all the time appeared to be in a very good temper. He had what many people who find themselves actually clever have, which isn’t being severe or solemn, as if they’re so positive they know what they’re speaking about that they don’t have the have to be earnest about it.”

When it got here time to placed on the exhibition (programmed by the museum’s earlier director Carol Seigel), the query got here up “whether or not you place works in Sigmund’s research, which is de facto the good set piece there,” Mr. Gayford recalled. Ultimately, two works have been hung within the research, and the remainder of the exhibition — self-portraits of Lucian Freud in addition to work, drawings and images — is held upstairs.

Mr. Albano mentioned the museum was eager to attract consideration to Freud’s authentic texts, as a result of there was a hazard in any other case that, as within the case of Karl Marx, the unique writings can be interpreted and reinterpreted, and his message would get misplaced in translation.

With that in thoughts, he famous, the museum deliberate to commemorate subsequent yr’s centenary of the publication of “The Ego and the Id,” one in all Freud’s most essential works.

“We wish the Freud Museum actually to be on the vanguard of a renaissance in curiosity in Freud’s work,” Mr. Albano mentioned.

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