CATALOGUE RAISONNÉ FOCUS: THREE STUDIES FOR A CRUCIFIXION, 1962

Francis Bacon, Three Studies for a Crucifixion, 1962. Oil on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2017. All rights reserved. Catalogue Raisonné Number 62-04.

Last month, to mark the 108th anniversary of Francis Bacon’s birth, the English Heritage honoured him with a blue plaque at his chaotic London studio-home 7 Reece Mews, South Kensington. One of the most famous works that he painted there was Three Studies for a Crucifixion, 1962. We delve into the ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné’ to find out some things you may not know about the piece:

Did you know the left panel was repainted in March 1962 having originally been white, pale in colour? The portraits title, ‘has proved resistant to interpretation, as though its transgressive content abrogated the possibility of defining the iconography of the triptych’. 

The genuinely violent nature of the painting comes to light as the right panel ‘was influenced by Cimabue’s Crucifixion’, which ‘reminded him of a worm crawling down a cross’

Rolf Laessoe contended that ‘the figure on the right, dressed in a black body stocking or tights, referred to Bacon’s claim that he was expelled from the family home in 1926’.

Excerpts: Martin Harrison, FSA. 62-04 Three Studies for a Crucifixion, 1962. Catalogue Raisonné Volume III, page 682-687.

If you’d like to order a copy of the ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné’ please visit Heni Publishing’s website.

 

 

CATALOGUE RAISONNÉ FOCUS: 50TH ANNIVESARY OF TRIPTYCH, 1967

Francis Bacon, Triptych, 1967. Oil on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2017. All rights reserved. Catalogue Raisonné Number 67-16.

For our next ‘Catalogue Raisonné Focus’, we take a look at Triptych, 1967, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year, with it also being five decades this month since the portrait was delivered as a wet piece of artwork to Marlborough Fine Art.

In his diary Bacon recorded that he began work on the triptych on the 21st August 1967. The portrait has often been referred to as Triptych Inspired by T.S. Eliot’s ‘Sweeney Agonistes’, however, ‘Bacon repeatedly complained that the long title was not his intention, saying he had merely remarked that he had been reading Eliot’s verse drama at the time’.

Two women on the left panel ‘lie motionless, disengaged, on a Spartan raised floor; unpainted, it resembles two stacked canvasses’. The portrait’s title could relate to the women in the portrait who could be ‘identified as Eliot’s Doris and Dusty’, whilst the man on the telephone who’s reflected in the mirror on the right hand panel might be Pereira.

Excerpts: Martin Harrison, FSA. 67-16 Triptych, 1967. Catalogue Raisonné Volume III, page 858-859.

If you’d like to order a copy of the ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné’ please visit Heni Publishing’s website

RARELY SEEN POPES TO BE DISPLAYED AHEAD OF AUCTION

Decorative image: Francis Bacon, Study of Red Pope, 1962, Second Version, 1971
Francis Bacon, Study of Red Pope, 1962, Second Version, 1971. Oil on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2017. All rights reserved. Catalogue Raisonné Number 71-04.

Francis Bacon’s Head with Raised Arm, 1955 and Study of Red Pope, 1962. 2nd version, 1971, are due to be included in a free public display in London by Christies.

Until this display and auction, the location of Bacon’s Head with Raised Arm, 1955 was untraceable during the compiling of the catalogue raisonné. The painting’s reappearance is considered a remarkable reappearance of Francis Bacon art. The piece was last exhibited in 1962, at the Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Turin, and acquired by the present owners in the following year.

The auction house highlights that Study of Red Pope, 1962. 2nd version, 1971 has been unseen in public since its unveiling at Bacon’s landmark retrospective at the Grand Palais 46 years ago. Martin Harrison FSA compares the work to its first version (Study from Innocent X, 1962) in the ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné’:

‘The paint is applied more sparingly, and indeed almost half the canvas is left unpainted. On the other hand, Bacon introduced an entirely new element in the later painting, the figure (presumably George Dyer) seen reflected in the curved mirror to the right.’

The display of these rarely seen Bacon works begin on 30 September at Christies’ King Street address, proceeding their ‘Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction’ in October, find out more via Christie’s website.

Word reference: Christies website and the ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné’

*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 Christies for all confirmation regarding the display.

CATALOGUE RAISONNÉ FOCUS: PORTRAIT OF GEORGE DYER IN A MIRROR, 1968

Francis Bacon, Portrait of George Dyer in a Mirror 1968. Oil on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2017. All rights reserved. Catalogue Raisonné Number 68-05.

For our next ‘Catalogue Raisonné Focus’, we look at Portrait of George Dyer in a Mirror, 1968, which is currently on display at the Musée Fabre as part of their ‘Francis Bacon / Bruce Nauman. Face to Face’ exhibition.

In Portrait of George Dyer, 1967, Bacon’s diary referenced ‘George folded’ and this representation can be directly related to this portrait of George Dyer.

The smartly-attired Dyer is only a rehearsal for the image that appears in the mirror, where his head is ‘sliced and severed into two parts’.

Excerpts: Martin Harrison, FSA. 68-05 Portrait of George Dyer in a Mirror, 1968. Catalogue Raisonné Volume III, page 880-881.

If you’d like to order a copy of the ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné’ please visit Heni Publishing’s website.

CATALOGUE RAISONNÉ FOCUS: TURNING FIGURE, 1962

Francis Bacon, Turning Figure 1962. Oil on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2017. All rights reserved. Catalogue Raisonné Number 62-11.

The next portrait to feature in our ‘Catalogue Raisonné Focus’ series is Turning Figure, 1962, which is presently on show at the Museé Fabre as part of their ‘Francis Bacon / Bruce Nauman. Face to Face’ exhibition.

The figure in this painting is more androgynous than those that feature in two similar standing female nudes, Nude, 1961, and Figure Turning, 1692. The anatomy in it doesn’t have any significant attributes that identify its gender, and only the long hair distinguishes it as female.

Excerpts: Martin Harrison, FSA. 62-11 Turning Figure, 1962, Catalogue Raisonné Volume III, page 700-701.

If you’d like to order a copy of the ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné’ please visit Heni Publishing’s website.

CATALOGUE RAISONNÉ FOCUS: THREE FIGURES IN A ROOM 1964

Francis Bacon, ‘Three Figures in a Room’, 1964 Oil on canvas © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2017. All rights reserved. Catalogue Raisonné Number 64-10.

Our ‘Catalogué Raisonné Focus’ series continues with Three Figures in a Room, 1964, currently on display in the Musée Fabre as part of their ‘Francis Bacon / Bruce Nauman. Face to Face’ exhibition.

This painting established the symmetrical arrangements of large triptychs, something that Bacon continued to do. The ‘floor and walls cohere across the three panels’, however, the ‘centre panel is over-scaled’.

‘The outer panels depict George Dyer, sexualised in the first flush of Bacon’s relationship with him, while in the centre panel Dyer’s portrait is morphing with Bacon’s’.

Excerpts: Martin Harrison, FSA. 64-10 Three Figures in a Room, 1964. Catalogue Raisonné Volume III, page 760-763.

If you’d like to order a copy of the ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné’ please visit Heni Publishing’s website.

CATALOGUE RAISONNÉ FOCUS: STUDY FOR PORTRAIT 1957

Francis Bacon, ‘Study for Portrait, 1957′. Oil on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2017. Catalogue Raisonné number: 57-22.

The next of Bacon’s works to feature in our ‘Catalogué Raisonné Focus’ series is Study for Portrait, 1957 (Catalogue Raisonné number 57-22) which is currently on display in Germany’s Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen as part of their 6 x Francis Bacon and other highlights of the ‘Lambrecht-Schadeberg Collection‘.

Out of all the Bacon Popes, this is one of the most satirical, with the tassels on the prelate’s face being as mocking as his limply-raised arms.

Excerpts: Martin Harrison, FSA. 57-22 Study for Portrait, 1957, Catalogue Raisonné Volume II page 524-525.

If you’d like to order a copy of the ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné’ please visit Heni Publishing’s website.

CATALOGUE RAISONNÉ FOCUS: THREE FIGURES AND PORTRAIT, 1975

Francis Bacon, Three Figures and Portrait, 1975. Oil and pastel on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2015. All rights reserved.
Francis Bacon, Three Figures and Portrait, 1975. Oil, pastel, alkyd paint and sand on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2017 All rights reserved.

Our ‘Catalogué Raisonné Focus’ series continues with Three Figures and Portrait, 1975, currently on display in the Bacon, Freud and the School of London exhibition Museo Picasso Málaga, Spain.

The painting combines three images of George Dyer, which all remain discrete entities, with the foreground featuring ‘a leering harpy / owl perched on a table’ which was ‘usually introduced by Bacon as a sign of mockery or malevolence’.

The spine, which is almost coming out of the skin of the left hand figure, can be associated with Bacon’s comment on a Degas pastel, After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself (c.1890-95, National Gallery, London). Within it the spine is referenced as having a grip and twist and that ‘you’re more conscious of the vulnerability of the rest of the body than if he had drawn the spine naturally up to the neck’. [Sylvester, pp.46-47]

The portrait pinned to the wall is that of Dyer with him also represented on the rail to the right where he appears to be either sprouting wings, or as a half-Eumenides, half-angel.

Excerpts: Martin Harrison, FSA. 75-07 Three Figures and Portrait, 1975, Catalogue Raisonné Volume IV, page 1080-1081.

If you’d like to order a copy of the ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné’ please visit Heni Publishing’s website.

CATALOGUE RAISONNÉ FOCUS: STUDY OF A BULL, 1991

Decorative image: Francis Bacon, Study of a Bull,1991.
Francis Bacon, Study of a Bull,1991. Oil, aerosol paint and dust on canvas. The Estate of Francis Bacon All rights reserved, DACS 2017. Catalogue raisonné number: 91-04

To continue our ‘Catalogué Raisonné Focus’ series, on the month of the 25th anniversary of Francis Bacon’s death, it seems apt to look back at the final painting he completed, Study of a Bull, 1991.

On the amount of dust used in the painting, Bacon expressed ‘Well, dust seems to be eternal – seems to be the one thing that lasts for ever’. A quote that has all the more significance considering his death would follow not long after this piece.

‘Bacon told Valerie Beston that he intended the painting as a homage to Federico García Lorca. It is probably also pertinent that his friend Michel Leiris, author of Miroir de la tauromachie, had died in September 1990.’

This wasn’t the first time that a bull had featured in a piece of art by Bacon, as he’d been painting bullfighters since 1969.

‘The Bull is monumental, magisterial, standing motionless and implacable at the top of the picture-field.’ ‘…a metaphorical bull-man, the noble but threatened beast with which Bacon is identifying’.

Excerpts:Martin Harrison, FSA. 91-04 Study of a Bull, 1991, Catalogue Raisonné Volume IV, page 1392.

We’ll be sharing further excerpts in the near future. If you’d like to order a copy of the ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné’ please visit Heni Publishing’s website.

CATALOGUE RAISONNÉ FOCUS: HEAD VI 1949

Decorative image: Francis Bacon, Head VI (1949)
Francis Bacon, Head VI, 1949. Oil on Canvas, © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2017. All rights reserved. Catalogue Raisonné number: 49-07.

With Francis Bacon’s Head VI 1949 currently exhibiting in the UK City of Culture 2017, Hull, it seems fitting that the revered painting be the subject of our next ‘Catalogue Raisonné Focus’.

Head VI is on display at Hull’s Ferens Art Gallery throughout the year, and until 1 May 2017 it is joined by four other works by Bacon in the display Francis Bacon: Nervous System.*

In Volume II of the Francis Bacon Catalogue Raisonné, Martin Harrisson FSA writes of Bacon’s Head VI:

‘This is the earliest surviving painting in which Bacon combined Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X and a still image from the Odessa steps sequence in Sergei Eisenstein’s film, Battleship Potemkin. It is Bacon’s most celebrated fusion of traditional art and modernism – a Baroque masterpiece and an already-famous cinema image – a diachronic conflation that became one of his fundamental precepts.’

‘At this stage Bacon had encountered the Portrait of Pope Innocent X only in black and white reproductions, and he believed the purple and lavender of the Pope’s cape to be the correct colours; although the Velázquez obsessed Bacon for twenty years, he did not paint an accurately red Pope until 1960.’

We’ll be sharing further excerpts in the near future. If you’d like to order a copy of the ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné’ please visit Heni Publishing’s website.

 

*Please note all details including names, dates and featured works, opening days/hours are subject to change, for all confirmation please contact Ferens Art Gallery.

Excerpts: Martin Harrisson, FSA, 49-07 Head VI 1949, Francis Bacon Catalogue Raisonné Volume II, pages 202 – 205.