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Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane Dublin, Ireland

'Salt Head', C D. Noblecourt, The Sculpture of Ancient Eqypt (London: The Oldbourne Press, 1926), plate 24

According to Melvyn Bragg, Bacon admired ancient Egyptian art for ‘its ferocity, its understanding of death, its inner grandness’.[1] A reproduction of the bust of Nefertiti from Kurt Lange’s book König Echnaton und die Amarna-Zeit, 1951, fed into Sketch for Portrait of Lisa, 1955, a likeness of Lisa Sainsbury, who, together with her husband Robert, was an important early patron. Head, 1956, was painted from an illustration of a bust of King Akhenaton in the same publication. Numerous books on Egypt and other ancient cultures were unearthed from 7 Reece Mews after the artist’s death. Bacon claimed to 'have looked at everything in art', because 'to be a painter now, I think that you have to know, even if only in a rudimentary way, the history of art from pre-historic times right up to today'.[2]


[1] Melvyn Bragg, ‘My friend Francis Bacon, possessed by devils’, in The Telegraph, 15 November 2013,, seen 21.07. 15.30.

[2] David Sylvester, Brutality of fact: Interviews with Francis Bacon, London: Thames&Hudson, 1987, p.199.