Francis Bacon’s Figure Study II from the Kirklees Collection is now on display free to the public at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One) in Edinburgh, alongside its companion piece Figure Study I.
Figure Study II is one of a series of paintings from the 1940s that features visual elements such as coats, umbrellas, plants and flowers, and in this case a screaming figure – set in ambiguous interiors with an orange background. They represent the first group of works which Bacon was confident enough to exhibit, having destroyed a number of his earlier works in the 1930s.
Figure Study I was acquired by National Galleries Scotland in 1998, although despite the title, it’s only a figure study by implication, given that it’s one of the few works produced by Bacon not to feature a figure. It does, however, share the same coat motif as Figure Study II, and it has been suggested the screaming figure may be lurking under the coat waiting to emerge.
“Figure Study II is one of the greatest acquisitions the Contemporary Art Society has ever made and the first painting by Francis Bacon to enter a public collection in this country… Its display with Figure Study I offers a rare opportunity to understand the artist’s thinking across two works from a critical moment of Bacon’s career”. – Caroline Douglas, Director of the Contemporary Art Society
Figure Study II was first exhibited in London in 1946, and then purchased by the Contemporary Art Society. In 1952 when the curator of the Batley Art Gallery accepted the piece as a gift from the Contemporary Art Society on behalf of Batley, it became the second work by Bacon to enter a public collection, the first being Painting, 1946 acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
When not on loan, Figure Study II has been on permanent display at Huddersfield Art Gallery. The painting has been loaned to a number of major exhibitions in London, Australia and Japan, and has recently been part of the Invisible Rooms exhibition at Tate Liverpool which traveled to Germany’s Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
As we approach the 25th anniversary of Francis Bacon’s death on 28 April, this is an exciting opportunity for the public to experience viewing the artist’s two works side-by-side. Presently the display is set to be in place for the remainder of 2017*. For further information please visit the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art website.
Francis Bacon’s Figure Study I and Figure Study II
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One)
Word ref: Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art press release, with special thanks to Senior Curator Grant Scanlan.
*Please note all details including names, dates and featured works, opening days/hours are subject to change. Ahead of a visiting, we recommend contacting the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art for all confirmation regarding the display.