Little known painter’s work hides Bacon scraps on reverse

'Pieces of destroyed painting(s)' by Francis Bacon, mounted on stretchers (back view), © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London. All rights reserved. Image © BNPS.co.uk

An incredible series of events has led to five – six paintings by a late, little known British artist, Lewis Todd, hiding the valuable scraps of a discarded Francis Bacon work (or works) on their reverse. The discovery was made by Todd’s family after his death in 2006.

Bacon’s preference was to paint on a canvases unprimed reverse. In a rare move it appears that Francis Bacon chose not to destroy the unwanted work(s), and the relatively unspoiled canvas(es), with blank primed fronts, ended up at a Cambridge gallery as art supplies – although it remains unknown how.

Aspiring ‘Sunday painter’ Lewis Todd obtained the ex-bacon canvas(es) for free from the Cambridge gallery. However, either by the gallery’s, Bacon’s or Todd’s wishes the once large Bacon canvas (es) was/were cut down into smaller painting surfaces.

With the Todd canvases collected and flipped the Francis Bacon ‘jigsaw’ can be appreciated. An even more remarkable prospect is that it’s clear sections of Bacon’s unfinished work(s) are missing. It’s entirely possible that someone may have a Lewis Todd painting on their wall at home, hiding a very valuable Bacon section on its reverse. The slashed sections may be the remnants of a ‘Pope’ painting.

The Francis Bacon Catalogue Raisonné Committee has authenticated five of the slashed canvases. Northumbria University’s preliminary pigment results also confirm the pigments and binding medium were typical of Bacon works.

Ewbank Auctioneers, Surrey, UK, will auction five of the Todd/Bacon canvases on 20th March 2013.

Read more details of this extraordinary story via the BBC here: http://bbc.in/13owesn

New Belgium exhibition: ‘Changing States: Contemporary Irish Art & Francis Bacon’s Studio’

Centre for Fine Arts (BOZAR), Brussels, Belgium, 28th February – 19th May 2013

Through a new unique contemporary exhibition, The Centre for Fine Arts is exploring the work of a generation of Irish artists who have made significant contributions to art practice since 2000. ‘Changing States: Contemporary Irish Art & Francis Bacon’s Studio’, celebrates the vitality of visual arts in Ireland through a collection of artists who highlight the interrelationship between local and global perspectives of Ireland.

In collaboration with the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, ‘Changing States’ also exhibits items from Francis Bacon’s notoriously ‘chaotic’ studio – 7 Reece Mews, London – the artist’s principle home and workspace for over 30 years, until his death in 1992. Having witnessed his fair share of political and social turmoil in the 20th century, the Irish-born painter’s legacy will give the exhibition immense insight.

‘Changing States: Contemporary Irish Art & Francis Bacon’s Studio’
Centre for Fine Arts (BOZAR), Brussels, Belgium
28th February – 19th May 2013
For tickets and further details: http://bit.ly/1343wwi

An illustrative book on Francis Bacon’s notoriously chaotic London studio is available here:  http://bit.ly/U6EAuk – ‘7 Reece Mews: Francis Bacon’s Studio’.

Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction, London

Lot 11: Francis Bacon, 'Three Studies for a Self-Portrait', 1980. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London. All rights reserved.
Lot 16: Francis Bacon, 'Study for a Portrait', 1976. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London. All rights reserved.

Francis Bacon works impressively contributed to Sotheby’s second-highest ever total for a February Contemporary Art Auction accumulating £74,364,200 / $116,357,664 / €86,321,943 in London last night.

Lot 11 – Francis Bacon’s oil on canvas triptych, ‘Three Studies for a Self-Portrait’, 1980, was the highest selling lot of the evening, going for £13,761,250 / $21,532,228 / €15, 974,055. The work was acquired by a German collector who will loan the masterwork to a major international institution.

Lot 16 – Francis Bacon’s oil on canvas pieces ‘Study for Portrait’, 1976, doubled its pre-sale estimate of £1.8 – 2.5 million, selling for £4,521,250 / $7,074,400 / €5,248,266.

See the details on every lot featured in the auction here.

London exhibition – ‘Movement and Gravity: Bacon and Rodin in dialogue’

Ordovas, London, 8th February – 6th April 2013

‘Movement and Gravity: Bacon and Rodin in dialogue’ celebrates the powerful portrayal of movement that Auguste Rodin’s sculptures achieve, and how they informed Francis Bacon in his painting. The exhibition presents the exciting opportunity to appreciate side by side the works of both renowned artists.

Throughout his London-based career, British painter Francis Bacon had numerous opportunities to study French Sculptor Rodin’s works in the city. Since 1914 Rodin exhibited at the V&A, the Tate, and in the 1950’s at 19 Cork Street – a gallery just round the corner from Bacon’s. Fitting then, that the Ordovas, London will be the location to invite audiences to witness Rodin’s sculptures, and appreciate Bacon’s interpretation through his iconic art. The Ordovas has also commissioned choreographer Joe Moran to compose a piece in response to the exhibited works, further continuing the artistic dialogue.

The exhibition promises to reveal some extraordinary and not commonly known stories of Bacon’s appreciation of Rodin, as well as a series of bold artistic highlights including the exciting opportunity to see Rodin’s ‘Iris, messagère des dieux’, circa 1890-91 next to Bacon’s ‘Lying Figure’, 1959, not to mention in public in London for the first time ever, Bacon’s ‘Three Studies from the Human Body’, 1967.

‘Movement and Gravity Bacon and Rodin in dialogue’
Ordovas, London, United Kingdom
8th February – 6th April 2013

Image: Auguste Rodin, ‘Iris, messagère des dieux’, conceived circa 1890-1891, photographed by Mike Bruce. © Mike Bruce. All rights reserved.