Sue Tilley

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Sue Tilley (born 1957), also known as Big Sue, is a British artist's model and writer. She modelled for painter Lucian Freud.

Born in south London,[1] Tilley worked for performance artist and club promoter Leigh Bowery as a cashier at his "Taboo" night club. Bowery introduced her to Lucian Freud in 1990 and she began posing for him the following year. During this time, she was also a full-time benefits supervisor at the Charing Cross jobcentre, a state-operated employment agency, and she eventually became manager there.[2]

Freud painted several large nude portraits of Tilley, the first being Evening in the Studio [de] (1993). Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, painted in 1995, was sold at auction in 2008[3] for £17 million ($33.6 million US) in New York City.[4] In 2015, the 1994 painting Benefits Supervisor Resting [de] sold for £35.8 million ($56.2million US).[5] A fourth painting Sleeping by the Lion Carpet was painted in 1996.[6] Freud also produced a number of etchings featuring Tilley, including Woman with an Arm Tattoo which Tilley sold in 2005.[7]

In 1997, she published Leigh Bowery: The life and times of an Icon, a biography.[8]


  1. ^ "Leigh Bowery: The Life And Times Of An Icon By Sue Tilley Now Available As An Ebook From Open Road Integrated Media". Open Road Integrated Media.
  2. ^ "The ballad of Big Sue". The Guardian. June 30, 2005.
  3. ^ "'It's lovely,' says benefits supervisor whose portrait is set to sell for £17m". The Guardian. April 12, 2008.
  4. ^ "Roman Abramovich 'revealed as Freud and Bacon buyer'". The Telegraph. May 18, 2008.
  5. ^ "Freud's painting of a Jobcentre clerk breaks his record: 'Benefits Supervisor Resting' sells at auction for a staggering £35.8m". Daily Mail. May 14, 2015.
  6. ^ "Great Works: Sleeping by the Lion Carpet 1995-6 (228.6cm x 121.3cm), Lucian Freud". Independent. July 28, 2011.
  7. ^ "Freud tattoo model etching sold". BBC News. June 28, 2005.
  8. ^ "Leigh Bowery: A life less ordinary". Independent. March 23, 2011.