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CR Number
Francis Bacon

Head VI


Oil on canvas

36 ¾ x 30 ¼ in. (91.4 x 76.2 cm)

Further Details
1964 Cr Number
Alley 25
Arts Council Collection, Southbank, London
'Francis Bacon, Tate, London (1962)', Tate Gallery, London, 24 May 1962 - 01 July 1962
'Francis Bacon', Kunsthalle Mannheim, Mannheim, 18 July 1962 - 26 August 1962
'Francis Bacon', Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Turin, 11 September 1962 - 14 October 1962
'Francis Bacon', Kunsthaus Zürich, Zürich, 27 October 1962 - 25 November 1962
'Francis Bacon', Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 11 January 1963 - 18 February 1963
'Francis Bacon', Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 18 October 1963 - 12 January 1964
'Francis Bacon', Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 24 January 1964 - 23 February 1964
'Francis Bacon: Paintings 1945-1982', The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 30 June 1983 - 14 August 1983
'Francis Bacon: Paintings 1945-1982', The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, 13 September 1983 - 10 October 1983
'Francis Bacon: Paintings 1945-1982', Aichi Prefectural Art Gallery, Nagoya, 12 November 1983 - 28 November 1983
'Francis Bacon, Tate, London (1985)', Tate Gallery, London, 22 May 1985 - 18 August 1985
'Francis Bacon', Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, 19 October 1985 - 05 January 1986
'Francis Bacon', Nationalgalerie, Berlin, 07 February 1986 - 31 March 1986
'Francis Bacon: Paintings', Central House of the Artists, New Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, 23 September 1988 - 06 November 1988
'Francis Bacon', Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 12 October 1989 - 07 January 1990
'Francis Bacon', Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 11 February 1990 - 29 April 1990
'Francis Bacon', Museum of Modern Art, New York, 24 May 1990 - 28 August 1990
'Francis Bacon: Figurabile', Museo Correr, Venice, 13 June 1993 - 10 October 1993
'Francis Bacon', Centre national d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou, Paris, 27 June 1996 - 14 October 1996
'Francis Bacon', Haus der Kunst, Munich, 01 November 1996 - 26 January 1997
'Francis Bacon', Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, 23 January 1998 - 26 April 1998
'Portraits and Heads (2005)', Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, 04 June 2005 - 04 September 2005
'Francis Bacon: The Portraits', Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, 13 October 2005 - 15 January 2006
'Francis Bacon: Tate Centennial (2008-9)', Tate Britain, London, 11 September 2008 - 04 January 2009
'Francis Bacon: Prado Centennial (2009)', Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 03 February 2009 - 19 April 2009
'Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective', Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 18 May 2009 - 16 August 2009
'Francis Bacon, Monaco and French Culture (2016)', Le Grimaldi Forum, Monte Carlo, 02 July 2016 - 04 September 2016
'Francis Bacon: Man and beast', Royal Academy of Arts, London, 29 January 2022 - 17 April 2022
'Francis Bacon: Paintings; Robin Ironside: Coloured Drawings', Hanover Gallery, London, 08 November 1949 - 10 December 1949
'The Pittsburgh International Exhibition of Paintings', Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, 19 October 1950 - 21 December 1950
'Ten Decades of British Taste, 1851-1951' organised by Institute of Contemporary Arts, London and Arts Council exhibition , Royal Society of British Artists Galleries, London, 10 August 1951 - 27 September 1951
'Recent British Painting' organised by Arts Council of Great Britain , Touring Exhibition, 1954
'A Selection from the Arts Council Collection' organised by Arts Council of Great Britain , Touring Exhibition, 1955
'Paintings from the Collection of The Arts Council of Great Britain', Diploma Galleries, The Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, 24 January 1958 - 22 February 1958
'Art Alive', Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, Northampton, March 1960 - April 1960
'British Painting 40-49' organised by Arts Council of Great Britain , 1966
'Decade 40s: Painting Sculpture and Drawing in Britain 1940-49', Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 01 November 1972 - 26 November 1972
'Decade 40s: Painting Sculpture and Drawing in Britain 1940-49', City Art Gallery, Southampton, 16 December 1972 - 13 January 1973
'Decade 40s: Painting Sculpture and Drawing in Britain 1940-49', Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle, 20 January 1973 - 11 February 1973
'Decade 40s: Painting Sculpture and Drawing in Britain 1940-49', D.L.I. Museum and Arts Centre, Durham, 17 February 1973 - 11 March 1973
'Decade 40s: Painting Sculpture and Drawing in Britain 1940-49', Manchester City Art Gallery, Manchester, 17 March 1973 - 08 April 1973
'Decade 40s: Painting Sculpture and Drawing in Britain 1940-49', Bradford City Art Gallery, Bradford, 14 April 1973 - 06 May 1973
'Decade 40s: Painting Sculpture and Drawing in Britain 1940-49', Museum and Art Gallery, Aberdeen, 12 May 1973 - 03 June 1973
'4 mestres contemporâneos: Jean Dubuffet, Alberto Giacometti, Willem de Kooning, Francis Bacon' organised by Museum of Modern Art, New York (touring exhibition) , Museu de Arte de São Paolo, São Paolo, 13 September 1973 - 07 October 1973
'4 mestres contemporâneos: Jean Dubuffet, Alberto Giacometti, Willem de Kooning, Francis Bacon' organised by Museum of Modern Art, New York (touring exhibition) , Museo de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, 15 October 1973 - 04 November 1973
'Englische Kunst der Gegenwart', Künstlerhaus Palais Thurn und Taxis , Bregenz, 23 July 1977 - 30 October 1977
'Three little books about painting: 3 Image' organised by Arts Council of Great Britain , Touring Exhibition, 1983-84
'Festival of Fifty-One' organised by Arts Council Collection , Hayward Gallery, London, 1990
'British Figurative Painting of the 20th Century' organised by organised by the British Council , Sotheby's, London, 02 October 1992 - 11 October 1992
'British Figurative Painting of the 20th Century' organised by British Council , Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 10 November 1992 - 10 February 1993
'From London: Bacon, Freud, Kossoff, Andrews, Auerbach, Kitaj' organised by with the British Council , Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, 01 July 1995 - 05 September 1995
'From London: Bacon, Freud, Kossoff, Andrews, Auerbach, Kitaj', Musée National d'Histoire et d'Art, Luxembourg, 22 September 1995 - 05 November 1995
'From London: Bacon, Freud, Kossoff, Andrews, Auerbach, Kitaj', Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, 16 November 1995 - 31 January 1996
'Velázquez and Bacon: Paintings of Popes', The National Gallery, London, 02 May 1996 - 19 May 1996
'Velázquez and Bacon: Paintings of Popes', National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 16 June 1996 - 02 December 1996
'Head First: Portraits from the Arts Council Collection', City Art Gallery, Leicester, 17 January 1998 - 28 February 1998
'Head First: Portraits from the Arts Council Collection', City Art Gallery, Southampton, 09 April 1998 - 31 May 1998
'Head First: Portraits from the Arts Council Collection', Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, 10 June 1998 - 13 September 1998
'Head First: Portraits from the Arts Council Collection', Hatton Gallery, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, 26 September 1998 - 08 November 1998
'Head First: Portraits from the Arts Council Collection', Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, 16 January 1999 - 28 February 1999
'Head First: Portraits from the Arts Council Collection', Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, 06 March 1999 - 18 April 1999
'Head First: Portraits from the Arts Council Collection', Ferens Art Gallery , Kingtson upon Hull, 01 April 1999 - 01 June 1999
'Bacon. Picasso: La Vie des Images', Musée Picasso, Paris, 02 March 2005 - 30 May 2005
'Caravaggio Bacon (2009-10)', Galleria Borghese, Rome, 02 October 2009 - 24 January 2010
'Prisoner and Ruler', Leeds Museum and Galleries, City Art Gallery, Leeds, 15 March 2010 - 01 January 2011
'Francis Bacon to Paula Rego', Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, 23 June 2012 - 16 September 2012
'Radical Figures: Post-War British Figurative Painting', Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester, 16 March 2013 - 30 March 2014
'Somewhat Abstract: Selections from the Arts Council Collection', Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, 12 April 2014 - 29 June 2014
'Leiris & Co.: Picasso, Masson, Miró, Giacometti, Lam, Bacon...', Centre Pompidou-Metz, Metz, 03 April 2015 - 14 September 2015
'Bacon - Giacometti', Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, 29 April 2018 - 02 September 2018
'Both Sides of Here: Artistic Encounters at the Threshold' organised by MA Curating the Art Museum Students 2020-21 , Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 16 June 2021 - 15 June 2022
Martin Harrison, Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné (London: The Estate of Francis Bacon, 2016). pp. 13, 35-36, 44, 50, 180, 192, 202-204, 310, 494, 608; ill. pp. 203, 205 (detail)
Martin Hammer, Francis Bacon and Nazi Propaganda (London: Tate Publishing, 2012). pp. 149, 151, 153, 157-160, 166, 173, 177; ill. No. 82, p. 150
Martin Hammer, Bacon and Sutherland (New Haven: Yale University Press for Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2005). pp. 41-42, 47, 50-51, 127, 142, 144, 217, 223, 226, 229, 250; ill. No. XVIII, unpaged
Hugh M. Davies, Francis Bacon: The Early and Middle Years, 1928-1958 (London and New York: Garland Publishing, 1978). pp. 56, 77-78, 80, 83-88, 95-97, 104, 111, 159, 182; ill. No. 50, unpaged (b&w)
John Russell, Francis Bacon, Art in Progress (London: Methuen, 1964). unpaged; ill. unpaged (titled 'Head IV', b&w)

The information in the present section on is based on the data in Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné by Martin Harrison and Rebecca Daniels, which was published by The Estate of Francis Bacon in 2016. The following ‘Notes for readers’ are extracted from the catalogue raisonné (Vol.1, p.102 and 103) and elaborate on the methodology and thinking behind the compilation and presentation of some data, such as titles, dates and media.


Notes for readers

Paintings are catalogued chronologically, under the year of their completion: thus a painting dated 1956-57 will be found in 1957. Undocumented paintings, to which only approximate (circa) dates can be attached, are generally placed at the end of the year in which they are believed to have been painted; this rule is departed from when there is firm evidence that a painting was made at a specific date during a certain year (for example ‘Street Scene (with Car in Distance)’, 1984 (84-03).

Titles of paintings placed in inverted commas, for example ‘Figure with Cricket Pad’, c.1982 (82-09), were not applied by Bacon or by his gallerists, and are merely descriptive. Among the paintings with descriptive titles in the catalogue, many did not emerge into public view until after 1998. Some of the titles initially given to them have been revised here; for example, ‘Figures in a Landscape’, c.1956 (56-11) has been substituted for ‘Two Figures in the Grass’, which is more logical in view of its relationship with Figures in a Landscape, 1956-57 (57-01).



In the past most of Bacon’s paintings have been described as ‘oil on canvas’. But he employed many other media, and was fond of mixing sand, dust, fibres and pastel, for example, with his oils. While every effort has been made to include these details, until paintings are examined (and ideally scientifically tested) with the glass removed, the descriptions of media will inevitably be incomplete.



Canvas dimensions are given in imperial measurements, height preceding width, followed by metric; this conforms with the British manufacture of Bacon’s canvasses.



After 1969, Bacon titled, signed and dated, on the reverse of the canvas, a majority of his paintings: before that date he only did so intermittently. It has been our aim to record all such details, but there are almost certainly omissions. The modern practice of fixing backing boards on paintings means that, even when granted privileged access to works, it is not always possible to inspect the reverse side.


Photography dates

Paintings were usually sent to be photographed shortly after leaving Bacon’s studio. The photography dates provide key data, therefore, in the chronology of paintings.



Alley numbers, for example (Alley 106), are those assigned to each painting in the first catalogue raisonné, Ronald Alley and John Rothenstein, Francis Bacon (London: Thames & Hudson; New York: Viking Press, 1964).


Destroyed paintings

Bacon destroyed many hundreds of paintings. The so-called ‘slashed canvasses’ are not (with one exception, Double Portrait of Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach, 1964 (64-03)) included in this catalogue. Forty such canvasses, found in Bacon’s studio after he died, are now in Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane. Margarita Cappock published them in 2005 under the heading ‘Destroyed Canvasses’, which raised questions regarding Bacon’s intentions with the destructions. On small portrait canvasses he – or a friend – invariably cut out the head, and on the large canvasses the heads and sufficient of the main figurative elements to nullify the ‘image’ were excised. Doubtless Bacon cut the canvasses so as to leave the stretchers intact for reusage, but while he could not have foreseen the tattered fragments eventually having a commercial value, or being exhibited, he could have rendered the destruction more complete (by burning the fragments, for example). His partial destructions were, typically, ambivalent, while as the creator of images that had ‘failed’, the connotations of violence in his taking a knife to them has clear psychological implications.

Four canvasses removed from Bacon’s studio in 1978 appeared on the market in April 2007, and a further five, from a separate source, were sold in June 2007; six fragments of canvas which had been given in the 1950s to the Cambridge artist Lewis Todd, who painted on their primed sides, were auctioned in March 2013.

Paintings with the suffix ‘D’ in the catalogue (for example 67-15D) are destroyed. Two of these are paintings which had been sold and were destroyed in accidents while in private ownership; a third was damaged beyond restoration when it fell into Tokyo Dock. Other paintings with this suffix in the present catalogue were destroyed by Bacon but had been exhibited publicly before he did so; since images of them are accessible in catalogues, they have been included for the sake of completeness.

In the 1964 catalogue raisonné, under pressure from Bacon, Ronald Alley consigned abandoned or destroyed paintings to two appendixes, classified as ‘A’ and ‘D’. These compromise categories have been jettisoned in the present catalogue, and the extant paintings placed where they occur in the chronology. A compelling reason for ceasing to adopt these categories is that of the nine paintings Alley listed as ‘Destroyed’ in 1964, four in fact survive.

Abandoned paintings

On 30 July 1996 David Sylvester wrote to the then owner of ‘Lying Figure’, c.1953 (53-21), who was disappointed he had not included it in the Bacon retrospective at the Centre Pompidou, Paris. He explained that none of the pictures listed in the 1964 catalogue raisonné as ‘Abandoned’ was treated as a candidate for inclusion, adding ‘it seems reasonable to me that during an artist’s lifetime and for a few years after his death, a retrospective exhibition should not include works that he considered abandoned. I think that a different attitude should be taken when an artist has been dead for some years.’ Sylvester volunteered the comment: ‘As we all know, works which an artist abandoned can still be works of great value: there are any number of such works by a variety of masters in the museums of the world. In my opinion “Lying Figure” is a very fine example of Bacon’s work.’

The question of ‘finish’, as signifying a putative state of completion, is probably less relevant in the case of Bacon than most other artists. An atheist and nihilist, the only ‘finish’ he recognised – and was haunted by – was death: to finish a painting was, perhaps, analogous to dying. It was neither whimsical nor accidental that he called so many of them ‘Study for…’: he was being not so much tentative as open-ended. Moreover, if Fragment of a Crucifixion, 1950 (50-02), in which more than half of the canvas is unpainted, was considered by Bacon a ‘finished’ painting, it is counterintuitive to categorise ‘Lying Figure’, c.1953 (53-21), for example, as ‘unfinished’.

Notes on titles

Robert Melville, reviewing the 1964 Alley/Rothenstein catalogue raisonné in Studio International, July 1964, observed that Study from Innocent X, 1962 (62-2), despite having been painted only two years previously, had already been given three different (if unofficial) titles – Red Pope, Red Pope on Dais, and Red Figure on a Throne. Melville doubted that Bacon gave any of his paintings the title ‘Pope’, and pointed out that when he was working for Erica Brausen at the Hanover Gallery, ‘we used to call them “cardinals” rather than “popes” in the presence of visitors, to make sure that no one would be offended.’ Melville predicted that all the paintings in the 1964 catalogue would be thenceforth known by the titles assigned to them by Ronald Alley. This precept has been adhered to in the present catalogue. Furthermore, for the ‘post-Alley’ years, 1963 to 1991, the titles established by Bacon and Marlborough Fine Art have been adopted consistently; for example, although Painting, 1980 (80-09) was exhibited in 1999 with the descriptive title Three Figures, One with a Shotgun, subsequent research has shown that its original title was Painting, and has been reverted to here.

The five works Bacon included in his first exhibition, in 1930, all had specific titles. In the present catalogue the titles of paintings dating from 1929 and 1930 follow those adopted by Alley, but they have been placed within inverted commas since it is highly unlikely that Bacon titled them as they are, by their media; (Alley had to negotiate Bacon’s indifference – or hostility – towards his pre-1944 œuvre).

© The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS 2018