NEW FRANCIS BACON ART FOUNDATION SET TO OPEN IN MONACO IN AUTUMN OF 2014

Monte Carlo, November 1981, Francis Bacon with Reinhard Hassert, © Eddy Batache, MB Art Collection

Francis Bacon with Reinhard Hassert in Monte Carlo, November 1981. Coll. MB Art Foundation © Eddy Batache

The FRANCIS BACON MB Art Foundation, based in Monaco, is a private non-profit institute dedicating its scholarly activities and research to the most compelling and controversial British figurative artist of the post-war era.

The Foundation’s mission is to promote a deeper understanding of the work and life of Francis Bacon worldwide, with a particular focus on the time that the artist lived and worked in Monaco and Southern France. This institute will: support original research, sponsor emerging artists, organize exhibitions and seminars on Francis Bacon with local and international institutions, and fund projects related to the artist.

The Estate of Francis Bacon welcomes the Foundation and will collaborate with it on research and educational activities. The art historian Martin Harrison, editor of the Francis Bacon Catalogue Raisonné, is on the board of this institute.

The Foundation was established by Majid Boustany, who first came across Francis Bacon’s work whilst taking a course in Art History alongside his Business and International Relation studies. An encounter with Bacon’s seminal triptych ‘Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion’ (1944) at Tate Britain started Boustany on a path of discovery that continues to this day: “Bacon’s enigmatic triptych challenged interpretation and triggered in me the need to explore his world”, Boustany says.

Boustany’s fascination for Bacon’s oeuvre has now lasted for more than twenty years; he quickly discovered that the artist had lived in Monaco from July 1946 to the early 1950s and frequently returned to the Principality throughout his life. “Bacon often made references to his life and work in Monaco” says Boustany, who himself has called Monaco home for more than thirty years. Boustany decided to house his Foundation on the ground floor of the Villa Elise, 21 Boulevard d’Italie, situated at the heart of Monaco. The institute will be open by appointment to scholars, researchers and the general public throughout the year.

The founder has been building a comprehensive art collection over a number of years that now includes: a selection of paintings by Francis Bacon from the late 1920s to the early 1980s and work by key peers and influences, a unique photographic archive on the artist by leading photographers and pictures by his friends and lovers, a comprehensive collection of Bacon exhibition catalogues, a wide selection of the artist’s graphic works, a unique array of working documents from Bacon’s various studios, a number of rare items from Bacon’s furniture and rug design period and an extensive library on the artist offering an essential resource for scholars.

The website of the Foundation (www.mbartfoundation.com) will be live by the end of September 2014.

FRANCIS BACON: THE CATALOGUE RAISONNE. Edited by Martin Harrison – FINAL CALL FOR WORKS

The Francis Bacon Catalogue Raisonné will go on press in October 2014, and the final meeting of the Francis Bacon Authentication Committee will take place in London on May 23rd 2014.

Owners of paintings by Francis Bacon are requested to contact the Catalogue Raisonné Committee via The Estate of Francis Bacon at mail@francis-bacon.com or by post at:

The Estate of Francis Bacon
London House
Unit 2
266 Fulham Road
London SW10 9EL.

All information received will be treated in the strictest confidence and requests for anonymity will be honoured.

The following works have not been located, and information as to their whereabouts is urgently sought: Lying Figure (1953); Man with Head Wound (1955); Mlle Suzy Solidor (1957); Head of Woman (1961).

Francis Bacon, 'Man with Head Wound', 1955, © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2014. All rights reserved.

Francis Bacon, 'Man with Head Wound', 1955, © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2014. All rights reserved.

Francis Bacon, 'Lying Figure' c.1953, © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2014. All rights reserved.

Francis Bacon, 'Lying Figure' c.1953, © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Francis Bacon, 'Mlle Suzy Solidor', 1957, © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2014. All rights reserved.

Francis Bacon, 'Mlle Suzy Solidor', 1957, © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2014. All rights reserved.

Francis Bacon, 'Head of Woman', 1961, © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2014. All rights reserved.

Francis Bacon, 'Head of Woman', 1961, © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2014. All rights reserved.

BACON ART TO BE EXHIBITED AND AUCTIONED IN LONDON

'Portrait of George Dyer Talking' © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2014. All rights reserved.

'Portrait of George Dyer Talking' © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2014. All rights reserved.

Francis Bacon’s ‘Portrait of George Dyer Talking’ 1966, and ‘Study for a Portrait’ 1978, will be exhibited at Christie’s London ahead of their auction later this month. ‘Portrait of George Dyer Talking’ was previously displayed in New York in January. Both works go on show from Saturday February 8th – 13th at Christie’s London King Street Saleroom.* The paintings will be auctioned as part of the ‘Post-War Contemporary Art Evening Auction’ on February 13th 2014.

Bacon and Dyer met in Soho in the autumn of 1963 with Dyer becoming arguably the artist’s greatest love and muse. ‘Portrait of George Dyer Talking’ was originally undertaken from a series of photographs taken by John Deakin around 1965. This painting is the second of eleven of Dyer that Bacon began in 1966, and completed in 1968. Bacon returned to this theme in similarly emotionally-loaded but more tragic circumstances following Dyer’s death in 1971, two days before Bacon’s major retrospective opened at the Grand Palais.

“Not an hour goes by when I don’t think about George”
(F. Bacon, quoted in M. Peppiatt, Francis Bacon: Anatomy of an Enigma, London 1996, p. 260).

Much can be interpreted from this early painting of Dyer which appears to project energy and life. The piece is spoken of as full of metaphors of both Dyer’s character, and Bacon’s reactions with it. Everything, from the subject’s twisted posture, the unorganised paperwork, the strokes of paint across Dyer’s mouth, all appear strongly energetic. Even the angle of the hanging, naked light bulb’s pull switch, and sweeping background (inspired by Bacon’s own raw studio) eludes to dramatic kinetic energy, almost as if the room is revolving at speed around a frustrated Dyer.

“the very form that you make has an implication when you are painting somebody, you know that you are of course, trying to get near not only to their appearance but also to the way they have affected you, because every shape has an implication”
(F. Bacon, quoted in D. Sylvester (ed.), The Brutality of Fact: Interviews with Francis Bacon, London 1987, p. 130).

Portrait of George Dyer Talking has been included in many important Bacon exhibitions. These include exhibitions at Galerie Maeght, Paris, in 1966-1967; Malborough Fine Art Ltd. in 1967 – the only time it has been seen in public in the UK; the Retrospective at the Grand Palace in 1971-1972; the Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas in 1973; the Museo d’Arte Moderna in Lugano in 1993; and the artist’s Retrospective at Yale Center for British Art in New Haven in 1999.

For further information on ‘Portrait of George Dyer Talking’ please visit Christie’s website here, and click on the ‘lot notes’ tab.

 

'Study for a Portrait' 1978 © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2014. All rights reserved.

'Study for a Portrait' 1978 © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2014. All rights reserved.

‘Study for a Portrait’ 1978, marks Bacon’s departure from the previous decade of canvases dark exploration of mortality, and inner turmoil following the death of Dyer. Bacon’s friendship with John Edwards is considered a factor in this lightening of theme, having met in the Colony Room Club in 1974. In this work Bacon possibly appears to merge both his own and Dyer’s portraits with those of Edwards’s youthful features.

‘Study for a Portrait’ displays a catalogue of interesting Bacon’s texture techniques, his application of paint on this occasion is not wildly applied, but tactically layered with colourful vitality striking through flesh. Bacon used near-dry paint, and buffed his paint brush on his leg. Such techniques combined with his signature use of the unprimed ‘rough’ side of the canvas, result in a painting with a lot to interesting insight both it’s artist’s heart and hands.

For further information on ‘Study for a Portrait’ please visit Christie’s website here, and click on the ‘lot notes’ tab.

Christie’s
8 King Street
St James’s
London
SW1Y 6QT
+44(0)20 7839 9060

*Please note that dates, times and works to be exhibited are subject to change. For more information please visit the Christie’s website.

Word ref: Christies press release and website, credited publications, and the words of Martin Harrison, editor of the forthcoming Francis Bacon Catalogue Raisonné.

BACON MOORE EXHIBITION BREAKS RECORDS AT THE ASHMOLEAN MUSEUM

FINAL-Bacon-Moore-Poster-9Aug2013‘Francis Bacon Henry Moore: Flesh and Bone’ has become the Ashmolean Museum‘s highest ever attended exhibition.

44,988 visitors attended the exhibition at the Oxford based Museum between September 12th 2013 and January 19th 2014.

‘Flesh and Bone’s’ attendance figures pass the Ashmolean’s previous highest figures: 2011′s ‘Heracles to Alexander the Great’ achieved 43,464, and 2010′s ‘Pre-Raphaelites and Italy’ 38,913.

‘Flesh and Bone’ displayed twenty works by Bacon, alongside twenty sculptures and twenty drawings by Moore. The Estate of Francis Bacon has enjoyed sharing the exhibition’s news and events on it’s social media channels, and equally reading the experiences shared by those who attended the Ashmolean. You can read what visitors said about the exhibition via Storify here.

Praise for ‘Francis Bacon Henry Moore: Flesh and Bone’:

“This is a compact, persuasively argued, dramatically hung show that makes it’s point with concise clarity. It pushes the visitor to reconsider these two artists in the light not just of each other but also of the century that moulded them.” **** Rachel Campbell-Johnston, The Times

“By boldly displaying these two titans together, the curators deserve credit for trying to cast new light on the artists we think we know so well.” Alastair Smart, The Sunday Telegraph

“It is a shock, in this succinct exhibition of two British colossi of the past century, Henry Moore (1898 – 1986) and Francis Bacon 1909 – 1992), to be reminded of just how colossal and original are their achievements.” Marina Vaizey, The Arts Desk

It’s an extremely intense exhibition, its startling juxtapositions pushing you to rethink these artists and the century that built them, and in this sense it works on its own terms, thought-provoking and sharp.” Rachel Cooke, The Observer 

“This exhibition reminds us that with artists such as these, and curators of insight, there is always scope for new discoveries and fascinating revelations.” Simon Wilson, RA Magazine.

The Estate of Francis Bacon would like to extend thanks to Martin Harrison, Richard Calvocoressi and The Henry Moore Foundation, the Ashmolean Museum, Francis Warner, and everyone who contributed to the exhibition.

Finally the Estate would like to say a special thank you to all those who attended the exhibition, viewed Francis Bacon and Henry Moore’s works, and made ‘Flesh and Bone’ so successful, thank you.

 

Word ref: Credited press, special thanks to Theresa Nicolson and Tom Jowett at the Ashmolean Museum.

The Telegraph reports John Edwards’ brother judged to have sold fake Bacon drawings*

Francis Bacon painting Three Studies for a a Portrait of John Edwards 1984. Photo: John Edwards © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved.

Francis Bacon painting Three Studies for a a Portrait of John Edwards 1984. Photo: John Edwards © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved.

The Telegraph has reported the following on news surrounding a previous sale of drawings, claimed to be Francis Bacon’s by their seller David Edwards:

When Francis Bacon past away on the 28th April 1992, his close friend John Edwards inherited the late artist’s entire Estate. John Edwards himself passed away in 2003. Four years later John Edwards’ brother David Edwards sold a collection of six drawings he claimed to be by Bacon for one million pounds, and months later a further six for three hundred thousand pounds.

However when the buyers showed their drawings to the Francis Bacon Authentication Committee in October 2007 they were told the style was: “inconsistent with all the sketches and paintings currently attributed to Bacon”. Martin Harrison, chair of the committee and eminent Bacon scholar, said the drawings were “fakes”, consistent “in every way” with the style of other copies. The value of the paintings was put at just over Four hundred and eighty pounds.

David Edwards, who was friends with Bacon when the artist was alive, was left bankrupt in 2009 from legal actions by the buyers of the sketches. Prior to being made bankrupt it emerged that David Edwards passed four hundred and twenty-five thousand pounds to his boyfriend John Frederick Tanner. Last May Mr Tanner was ordered to pay the sum to the buyers as reimbursement.

January saw a High Court Judge, Mr Justice Sales reject a bid from Mr Tanner to introduce fresh evidence that purportedly showed the drawings were genuine. Mr Tanner then appealed the decision, with Lady Justice Arden rejecting a bid to bring forward fresh evidence that the sketches are “authentic”, at London’s Appeal Court on October 7th 2013. Further details of this story, including reasons for Lady Justice Arden’s ruling, and the evidence that Mr Tanner hoped to introduce to the hearing are outlined in this article from The Telegraph.

*Please note the views expressed in this article are those of The Telegraph, and not those of the Estate of Francis Bacon.

The Estate of Francis Bacon wholly funds the research programme to produce and publish the complete work of Francis Bacon. Martin Harrison, FSA, was appointed editor of the new catalogue raisonné in 2005, and a research assistant, Dr Rebecca Daniels, was appointed in 2006. Their work, which has been funded entirely by the Estate, is scheduled for completion in 2014. A Catalogue Raisonné Committee and Authentication Board which consists of six members was set up in 2006 to enable unrecorded original works to be identified and fakes to be eliminated from the record. Since its inception the Committee has convened in London once or twice a year. The next Committee is scheduled to take place on 28th October 2013. Anyone who wishes to submit a work to the Committee would need to download a Submission Form which can be found here and return it duly completed to the address found on the form.

Two Bacon Works to be Exhibited and Auctioned by Sotheby’s London

Francis Bacon, 'Three Studies for Portrait of Isabel Rawsthorne' (1966). Oil on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2013. All rights reserved.

Francis Bacon’s ‘Three Studies of Isabel Rawsthorne’ (1966) and ‘Head III’ (1949) are to be exhibited in London this month, ahead of their auction as part of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction on June 26th.

It is fitting that these two Francis Bacon works be grouped together as their history originates from the same time period. ‘Head III’ was painted, and exhibited in the Hanover Gallery in 1949, and it is in preparing for this solo show at the Hanover Gallery that Francis Bacon came to be acquainted with Isabel Rawsthorne, who was also preparing for her own solo exhibition at the Gallery.

A muse and more to other artists including André Derain, Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti, Isabel Rawsthorne radiates a heroic position amongst Bacon’s portraits. She would become an important Paris connection for Bacon’s career, and an intimate friend. A diary recovered from Bacon’s studio claims the painting was completed in under two weeks between October 21st and November 4th 1966. Such information reinforces the idea that Bacon’s work on this piece was one of considerable intense focus, culminating in painting and communicating his knowledge of his subjects magnetism. ‘Three Studies of Isabel Rawsthorne’ encapsulates the intimate relationship between Bacon and Rawsthorne, with Isabel’s graceful, strong, handsome features applied with Bacon’s signature shorthand.

Francis Bacon’s 1949 Hanover Gallery show was his first one man exhibition. It featured six ‘Head paintings’ by Bacon, with ‘Head III’ the first irrefutable human likeness in Bacon’s professional career. Another first for this piece is the full appearance of Bacon’s obsessively quoted broken glasses, no doubt inspired by Eisenstein’s 1925 film ‘Battleship Potemkin’. The work was first owned by the notable Californian collector Wright S. Ludington (1900-1992) who made the purchased prior to the Hanover Gallery Show in November 1949. Since then the piece has been exhibited in a series of important Francis Bacon exhibitions. The subject in the piece is said by some to bear a likeness to Eric Hall, an early long term partner of Bacon’s.

Francis Bacon, 'Head III' (1949). Oil on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2013. All rights reserved.

If you would like more incite into the pieces, please visit the following Sotheby’s links: ‘Three Studies of Isabel Rawsthorne’ and ‘Head III’, then click on the ‘Catalogue notes & Provenance tab’. The exhibition of these pieces takes place at Sotheby’s 34-35 New Bond Street, London, W1A 2AA, at the following days/times*:

Fri, 14 Jun 13 | 12:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Sat, 15 Jun 13 | 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Sun, 16 Jun 13 | 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Mon, 17 Jun 13 | 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue, 18 Jun 13 | 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed, 19 Jun 13 | 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat, 22 Jun 13 | 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Sun, 23 Jun 13 | 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Mon, 24 Jun 13 | 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Tue, 25 Jun 13 | 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Wed, 26 Jun 13 | 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction
19:00, June 26th 2013
34-35 New Bond Street, London, W1A 2AA, UK
+44 (0)20 7293 5891

Words ref: Sotheby’s press release and websites, including lot catalogue notes and respective original sources.
*Please note days/times are subject to change, please contact Sotheby’s for further information.

Francis Bacon’s ‘Painting March 1985′ to be Exhibited and Auctioned by Christie’s in Paris

Francis Bacon, 'Painting March 1985' (1985) Oil on canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London 2013. All rights reserved.

Francis Bacon’s Painting March 1985′ is part of the Jacques Duplin collection to be auctioned in Paris on June 4th as part of Christie’s Contemporary Art sale.

Writer, poet and gallery director Jacques Dupin died last year. Bacon and Dupin were admirers of each others work, working together closely from the time of Bacon’s exhibition at Galerie Maeght, where Dupin was a director in 1966. Jaques Dupin wrote texts for catalogues of both Bacon’s exhibitions at Galerie Lelong, Paris in 1984 and 1987. ‘Painting March 1985′ featured in the September 1987 Galerie Lelong exhibition. It was gifted to Jacques Dupin by Bacon at the same time as a mark of their friendship, and no doubt Bacon’s gratitude for the prefaces Dupin had contributed. Two years later Bacon was commissioned to paint Dupin by the French Ministry of Culture resulting in ‘Portrait of Jacques Dupin (1990).

In it’s original state ‘Painting March 1985′ was then conceived as one of Bacon’s ‘new seascapes’ with the first title: ‘Study of a Wave’ (1983) still visible on the reverse. The original title is understandable with water emerging from the right of the piece threatening to splash neighbouring art. However on completion the ‘wave’ was no longer the only focal point. Accompanying the expansive aquatic greens and blues contrasting against what appears to be a clear blue sky is a trademark Bacon space-frame, or ‘cage’ as Dupin referes to it, and an intriguingly familiar creature.

“the confrontation of a monster with the sea…the spectral fantastic creature loosing blood from an orifice that is neither mouth nor wound”
- Jacques Dupin’s comments on the painting in 1987

The “fantastic creature” Dupin describes was also noted by him to have been “a regular visitor”. With comparisons drawn to the mythical creatures since Bacon’s first masterpiece ‘Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion’ (1944). Certainly appearances of a very simular creature are visible in ‘Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus’ (1981) and ‘Oedipus and the Sphinx after Ingres 1983′. With the ‘Eumenide’ creature in ‘Painting March 1985′ Bacon is thought to be returning to the epic, ancient Greek tragedy Eumenides and Oresteian Trilogy by Aeschylus. For Bacon the Eumenides are shocking violent and visual creatures; potent signifiers of the artist’s own inner sensations.

Interesting is the use of the signature space-frame present in this piece, in this instance the ‘cage’ is heavily interactive with the subject. Not installed as a frame or confine, but rather to provide an ironically flimsy vessel that the creature seems to cling to in desperation, denoting further ‘life and death balances’ commonly found in Bacon’s later works.

‘Painting March 1985′ is earmarked as a top lot of Christie’s Parisian sale. The painting has already been exhibited in London and New York, and exhibits in Paris ahead of the sale at the below dates and times. Coming from Jacques Dupin’s collection and with Bacon often visiting Paris, it seems appropriate that this piece be exhibited and auctioned in the French capital. For more information on the painting click here and view some in depth writings on ‘Painting March 1985′ under the ‘lot notes’ tab.

Christie’s Contemporary Art sale (19:00, 4th June 2013)
Exhibition: Saturday June 1st from 10 am to 6 pm, Sunday June 2nd from 2pm to 6pm and Tuesday June 4th from 10 am to 6pm. (Please note date, times and location may alter, please contact Christie’s for further information)
Christie’s Saleroom
9 Avenue Matignon
75008
Paris

Word reference: Christie’s press release & websites, J. Dupin, preface to the catalogue for the exhibition Francis Bacon – Peintures Récentes in Repères – Cahiers d’Art Contemporain, No. 39, 1987., Martin Harrison – Christie’s website ‘lot notes’ March 2013, article in Le Monde, 22nd March 2013 by Philippe DAGEN.

Bacon’s ‘Study for Portrait’ to be Auctioned in Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale

Francis Bacon, 'Study for Portrait' (1981) © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London. All rights reserved.

Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale, Christie’s, New York Rockefeller Plaza, 19:00, 15th May 2013

Christie’s will auction Francis Bacon’s ‘Study for Portrait’ (1981) at their Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale in New York. The piece is Bacon’s last posthumous portrait of George Dyer, completed in the year of the tenth anniversary of Dyer’s death. George Dyer died in Paris on October 1971, two days before Bacon’s major retrospective opened at the Grand Palais. The painting features a seated nude cross-legged Dyer, the pose is employed in previous pieces utilising John Deakin’s photographs of Dyer posing in Bacon’s Reece Mews studio, circa 1965.

Francis Bacon was a ruthless self-editor, documented to have destroyed numerous canvases he had become dissatisfied with, he often recalled seemingly complete paintings from galleries to alter to various degrees, or sometimes even destoy.

“Well, if I have been working on it for some time and it just doesn’t seem to be right, I cut it up and destroy it because the paint becomes so clogged and there is nothing to do, as I really do like the paint to be fresh.”

-Francis Bacon

‘Study for a Portrait’ was certainly no exception to Bacon’s ruthless editing. Thought to have been painted around July 1981, Bacon ‘completed’ the piece only to recall it from the Marlborough Fine Art on August 3rd of the same year. Intending on repainting the leg Bacon returned the painting in September 1981 now featuring an altered anatomy, turning the head from almost frontal to face right and transforming a previously biomorphic form found in the top right into a bust of George Dyer. Other changes included the striking pale blue passage serving to highlight George Dyer’s profile.

The two black zones present throughout the alterations of the painting are a signifier of mortality – present in Bacon’s later paintings. However it appears that Bacon lavished considerable attention on the flesh tones present on this piece, opening a counter balancing dialogue creating not a mournful mood, but one of unusually reflective tenderness.

Read more insight on Francis Bacon’s ‘Study for Portrait’ in Martin Harrison’s* text, featured in the ‘Lot Notes’ tab found here on the Chritie’s website. ‘Study for Portrait’ is Lot 46 of the evening auction and has an estimate of $18 000 000 – $25 000 000.

Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale (May 15th, 19:00)
Christie’s Saleroom
20 Rockefeller Plaza
New York
NY 10020
Tel: +1 212 636 2000

Word ref: Christies website, including Martin Harrison’s ‘Lot Notes’: (c)Martin Harrison, May 2013. *Martin Harrison is editor of the forthcoming Francis Bacon Catalogue Raisonné Quote: (David Sylvester, Interviews with Francis Bacon, 4th ed.,1993, London: Thames & Hudson, p. 196)

The Legendary Colony Room with Sophie Parkin

Tom Baker, Francis Bacon, Jeffrey Bernard, John Edwards Bruce Bernard, and others (by kind permission) © Mary Dunkin

At a special event at Leeds Art Gallery last weekend novelist, artist and actress Sophie Parkin, author of the highly acclaimed recently published book ‘The Colony Room Club 1948-2008 A History of Bohemian Soho’, discussed the legendary London establishment. The Colony Room Club was home to Soho’s eclectic art community for generations, famously including Francis Bacon.

The Colony Room Club was known to the local’s as ‘Muriel’s', after the proprietor Muriel Belcher, of whom Francis Bacon was a great admirer, the artist painted her portrait three times. Muriel would pay Francis ten pounds a week to ‘bring in the people you like’. Before long the Colony Room was was welcoming the likes of Dylan Thomas, Louis MacNeice, Charles Laughton, E.M. Forster, Tallulah Bankhead, as well as artists Frank Auerbach Colquohoun and Macbryde, who, like Bacon are represented in the Leeds Art Gallery collection.

Opinions of the famous artistic drinking den have ranged and changed. Brian Patten described it as ‘a small urinal full of fractious old geezers bitching about each other’. Painter, novelist, and journalist – Molly Parkin (Author Sophie’s mother) saw the club as ‘a character-building glorious hell-hole. Everyone left their careers at the roadside before clambering the stairs and plunging into questionable behaviour’. A club member since the gift of membership as an 18th birthday present, Sophie Parkin herself intimately describes the club as ‘fish tank whose water needed changing’.

For more information and to buy the book ‘The Colony Room Club 1948-2008 A History of Bohemian Soho’ by Sophie Parkin visit: www.thecolonyroom.com

Francis Bacon’s ‘Study for a Portrait of P.L.’ being exhibited and auctioned by Sotheby’s

Francis Bacon, 'Study for a Portrait of P.L.' (1962) Oil on Canvas. © The Estate of Francis Bacon / DACS London. All rights reserved.

Sotheby’s London is currently exhibiting Francis Bacon’s ‘Study for a Portrait of P.L.’ until April 16th. It will then exhibit in New York from May 3rd, ahead of being auctioned at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction on May 14th.

Bacon first met former Battle of Britain pilot Peter Lacy in 1952, in Soho’s Colony Room. Their ensuing intimate relationship was said to be marked by tempestuous, often violent passion. Lacy eventually moved away to Tangier in the mid 50′s. In 1962, alongside telegrams of congratulations for his Tate exhibition, Bacon received the news of Lacy’s early death from alcohol abuse.

As always, much can be interpreted from Bacon’s intriguing, intimate art. Immediately striking in respect to the nature of Lacy’s alcohol-related death is the inclusion of a glass of wine in this piece. The posthumous timing of ‘Study for a Portrait of P.L.’, painted only months after Peter Lacy’s death in 1962, adds context to interpretations of the piece. With Bacon seemingly capturing his lover’s character as he had intimately observed it, a surviving eulogy of his ill-fated lover.

A significant highlight of ‘Study for a Portrait of P.L.’ in Bacon’s career is what appears to be the re-introduction of Picasso’s influence, with the brushwork and physiognomy of Lacy’s head reminiscent of early Picasso’s early ‘primitive heads’. This is possibly the first piece to exhibit formulaic change marking the direction of the artist’s work until his death over 25 years later. The impassioned portraits of close friends and lovers including George Dyer were surely influenced by ‘Study for a Portrait of P.L.’

Francis Bacon enthusiasts are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to see this truly poignant piece of art being exhibited in public for the first time in around 40 years.

Sotheby’s London
34-35 New Bond Street
London W1A 2AA
Tel: +44 20 7293 5000

Sotheby’s New York ‘Contemporary Art Evening Auction’
1334 York Avenue
New York 10021 US
Tel: +1 212 606 7000

Words/information referenced from: Sotheby’s