“I am very influenced by places – by the atmosphere of a room … I just knew from the very moment that I came here that I would be able to work here.” – Francis Bacon
On the 108th anniversary of his birth, English Heritage have honoured Francis Bacon with a blue plaque at his chaotic London studio-home 7 Reece Mews, South Kensington.
Bacon moved to 7 Reece Mews, a converted Victorian coach house, in 1961. The tiny studio on the first floor was to become the most important room in the artist’s life and his main home and studio until his death in 1992. Soon after moving into Reece Mews, Bacon completed his first large-scale triptych, Three Studies for a Crucifixion, 1962. Over the next three decades he created many of his most significant works there, including portraits and self-portraits, among them Portrait of George Dyer Talking, 1966.
“I work much better in chaos. I couldn’t work if it was a beautifully tidy studio, it would be absolutely impossible for me…Chaos for me breeds images.” – Francis Bacon
The chaotic nature of Bacon’s studio in 7 Reece Mews has become legendary. He used the walls to mix and test paints and he littered the studio with used paint tubes, jars of loose pigment, paintbrushes, utensils, tin cans, sticks of pastel, pieces of fabric, empty bottles of turpentine, cans of spray paint and of fixative, tins of household paint and countless roller sponges. Paint brushes, cut off ends of thick corduroy trousers, cashmere sweaters, ribbed socks and cotton flannels all featured among the tools of Bacon’s trade, which attests to the sheer range of his painting techniques.
In 1998, six years after Bacon’s death, the studio and its entire contents including the walls, doors, floor and ceiling were removed and painstakingly recreated in The Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin, the city in which Bacon was born on 28 October 1909. Today, 7 Reece Mews is in the care of The Estate of Francis Bacon.
The English Heritage London blue plaques scheme, which has been running for 150 years, links significant figures of the past to the buildings in which they lived and worked.
“It’s a great idea to put up a blue plaque for Francis Bacon at the idiosyncratic, almost insanely eccentric, tiny upstairs flatlet in which he did some of his finest work. I’m sure he would have loved it.” – Author and broadcaster, Melvyn Bragg
Bacon is also presently recognised by two other plaques. A National Art Collections Fund plaque marks where the artist and other notable residents lived at 7 Cromwell Place, London. A Dublin Tourism plaque marks 63 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin, where the artist was born on this day in 1909.
If you’re interested in more information on Francis Bacon’s Studio, essays and photographs are available on our website. We also recommend the photography publication ‘7 Reece Mews: Francis Bacon’s Studio’.
Word reference: English Heritage press release and the writings of John Edwards in the publication ‘7 Reece Mews: Francis Bacon’s Studio’ © The Estate of Francis Bacon.