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D.C. Somervell
Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane Dublin, Ireland

Double page spread in book, D.C. Somervell, 100 Years in Pictures, London: Odhams Press Limited, 1951 (pp. 202-3)

Paint marks and smudgy fingerprints on the edges of the pages bear testimony to the artist’s interest in this double-page spread. The black and white aerial photograph shows people fleeing from Nevsky Prospekt in the centre of St Petersburg, after the army had started shooting the protestors during the riots in July 1917. Bacon told Ronald Alley that he liked the image because 'not one of these hundreds of figures looks remotely like a conventional figure; each one, caught in violent motion, is stranger and at first sight less intelligible than one could possibly have imagined it’. [1] ‘Could anything', Bacon asked Alley in relation to an off-balance L-shaped form in the foreground, 'be more utterly unlike the conventional concept of a man running?'[2] It was Bacon’s goal to avoid traditional modes of representation and often he found inspiration in photography, which offered novel and unusual ways of delineating the human figure.


[1] Ronald Alley, ‘Introduction’, Ronald Alley and John Rothenstein, Francis Bacon. Catalogue Raisonné and documentation, Thames & Hudson: London 1964, p.17.

[2] Ibid.