The Estate of Francis Bacon

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Reece Mews: The Studio of Francis Bacon
Photographs of Reece Mews by Perry Ogden

For thirty years Francis Bacon lived worked in Reece Mews, a former coach house located in a Victorian mews in the London borough of South Kensington. It was here he produced many of his greatest paintings. Years, after his death the studio remained uninhabited and untouched exactly as he had left it.

The flat was very simple. On the ground floor, were what used to be the stables, which had in recent times been used for storage. Upstairs, which was where he lived, was accessed by a very steeply inclined wooden staircase - rather like an Amsterdam house staircase - and you had to negotiate those stairs with the help of a rather greasy, thick rope, taking the role of a banister, up the side.

When you reached the top, you were on a little landing. The landing had a toilet and a kitchen. The kitchen also had a bath in it. So it was a kitchen-bathroom. And if it was cold, Francis would light the gas oven and leave the door open, so that having a bath wouldn't be too unpleasant. Even when he was at the very height of his celebrity and wealth, this was the pattern.

To the left of that, was a bedroom, with a table and chairs and a sofa, and his few books. Very simple; it reminded me of the kind of way that an ex-soldier, or a former prisoner might live. Simple, modest, very unassuming, very focused. Then, you crossed the landing, and there was this tiny but dense and intense room, with a window at either end and a skylight where he painted. And there was just enough room in the center of this topography of chaos for him to stand and paint the canvases. And that seemed to work for him very well. It was a very efficient little room for working in.

Brian Clarke 2006

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