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Johnny Stiletto

Francis Bacon on the Piccadilly Line

“It was just totally by chance, I happened to be on the Tube and he happened to be on the Tube. I noticed Bacon, not because I necessarily instantly recognised his face but because I noticed his terrific suede trench coat, garnished by a half pounder Rolex resting on the pocket cuff. The face came in third. Bacon was very aware that I was taking shots of him and gave me an eye line straight down the lens of the camera which I was shooting without looking into the finder, from about waist high, a shot from the hip. The picture was picked up by Ritz magazine who I think were tipped off by Joe’s Basement who did all my processing at the time. They ran it as a double page centre fold. I got a call from the picture editor of the Independent, Bruce Bernard, who was a great friend of Bacon’s and often acted as a sort of ringmaster for Bacon’s entertainments. Bacon had seen the picture and loved it, and could Bacon have a copy? I met Bacon at the restaurant in the Michelin building, and I think it was his birthday lunch. I signed a photograph for Bacon and he signed one for me. The picture is notionally reputed to be Bacon’s favourite picture of himself. Anecdotally I did a book called Vintage 80s which has a shot of Bacon in Soho on his way to the French Pub the day Gaston retired as landlord.”


Johnny Stiletto, 2016