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‘On a good day, when glimpsed from the other side of the street, he had even in his eighties the same life-long spring-heeled walk,’ John Russell recalled of Bacon in the early 1990s. The artist still approached large-scale canvases, such as Study for Human Body, 1991, with the vigour and sexual explicitness typical of his work. As dedicated to painting as ever, age 82 he remarked ‘I’ll go on until I drop.’

Bacon went on living life to the fullest and during his last years, he enjoyed the company of his new partner José Capelo. The young Spaniard appears in a number of portraits and he features—merged with the likeness of racing-car driver Ayrton Senna borrowed from a magazine cover—in the left panel of Triptych, 1991.

However, despite his youthful appearance and undaunted dynamism, Bacon’s health was deteriorating. In spring 1992, Bacon travelled to Madrid to see Capelo and died there from a heart attack on 28 April.