Looking Through Freud's Photos - Michael Molnar


A moody Freud posed against a background of holiday pictures pinned to a wall; or lurking at the very edge of a large family group; or lost in a crowd of nineteenth-century scientists.

These snapshots or posed portraits not only tell stories, they also carry a specific emotional charge. The earlier essays in this book follow traces of Freud's early years through the evidence of such album photographs; the later essays use them to reconstruct the stories of various family members.

An unknown photo of his half-brother Emanuel initiates an investigation into the Manchester Freuds. An identity photo of his daughter Anna, and the document to which it is attached, throw light on the critical final days of her trip to England in 1914. A faded idyllic print of children playing evolves into a discussion of Ernst Freud's luck and childhood. The suicide of Anna s artist cousin, Tom Seidmann Freud, emerges from a snap of her infant daughter Angela. The story of Oliver Freud's life and his relationship to his father are extrapolated from a passport photo that bears witness to his narrow escape from Vichy France in 1942. A haunting image of his infant daughter Eva brings her tragically short life into focus.

Drawing on many years of work in the photo archives at the Freud Museum London, this fascinating and unfamiliar slant on neglected episodes and little-known members of the Freud family restores the density of lived experience to the historical picture.


'Molnar is the most sophisticated historian of the visual world of psychoanalysis and this book is his masterpiece.'
Sander L. Gilman

‘He has taken seemingly slight, nearly always close to incomprehensible, images from the family archive of an incontestably but controversially famous man and performed a magic meditation upon them.’
John Forrester

‘One of the most insightful scholars of Freud and his times.’
Mary Bergstein

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