Francis Bacon's Study for a Portrait, 1953 is presently on display at Hamburger Kunsthalle in Germany. The painting is part of the museum’s permanent collection which, in full, includes art from eight centuries.
‘In many respects Study for a Portrait was the founding image of Bacon’s businessmen, and it initiated a typology that continued to preoccupy him for the next ten years.’ – Martin Harrison, FSA, writing in the Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné, 2016.
The painting shows a man sitting upright with his legs bent and his feet resting on a kind of day-bed. Behind the figure, light leaks through the horizontal shutters and vertical curtains into an oppressive room. Bacon’s sombre pallet of a blue suit and the rough ruddy brown floor are counterpoints to the ghostly brightness of the subject’s face and white shirt.
The work was first exhibited in London in ‘New Paintings by Francis Bacon’ at Beaux Arts Gallery from 12 November to 9 December 1953; read its exhibition history here. The painting’s provenance began with art critic and valued friend to Bacon, David Sylvester. Sylvester purchased the piece while Bacon was still painting it. At later dates, the work was owned by individuals: Anthony Hubbard and thenBacon himself. It was also owned by galleries in London, New York, and Paris. Today it finds its place at Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany, where it can be viewed*.
A list of public art collections featuring Francis Bacon works is available on our website. However, please note that there is no guarantee that a Bacon work held in a public collection is currently on display. Collections are often loaned and works on view rotated, so ahead of visiting, check in with the host gallery/museum to avoid disappointment.
Study for a Portrait, 1953*
Word reference: Hamburger Kunsthalle website, The Estate of Francis Bacon website, and Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné, 2016, Martin Harrison, FSA. Volume II, p312-315.
*Please note, accessibility and ticketing terms and conditions apply. Tickets are subject to availability. All display details including dates, names, featured works, opening days/hours are subject to change. If you're planning a visit, we first recommend checking with Hamburger Kunsthalle for all confirmations regarding their display.