For this month’s Catalogue Raisonné Focus we turn our attention to Fragment of a Crucifixion, 1950 which, upon first display at the Hanover Gallery in September 1950, helped to cement the perception amongst London’s avant-garde critics and artists that Bacon was a unique force in British art.
Within the painting there are two white figures seemingly engaged in an existential struggle. Since Bacon’s death the source of the ‘crucified’ form has been identified as a flash photograph by Eric Hosking of a Barn Owl at night, carrying its prey. The ‘deposition’ figure has been compared with the workman helping to lower Christ’s body in Rubens’s Descent from the Cross (1612–14, Antwerp Cathedral).
“The audacity to leave half of the canvas unpainted, the disjunction between the two dramatic, bloodied forms, and the sketchy banality of the figures and cars in the distance, their incongruity wrenching the spectator between death and quotidian reality, made an impact that has not diminished.”
Excerpt from Martin Harrison, FSA. Fragments of a Crucifixion, 1978, Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné 2016, pages 218 - 221.
Since being shown for the first time in September of 1950, the work has been on display in a large number of solo and group exhibitions in galleries such as the Museum of Modern Art New York, the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and at Le Grimaldi Forum in Monte Carlo.
Read the painting’s exhibition history and selected bibliography here.
Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné can be purchased through our distributors’ website.