Sotheby's London is currently exhibiting Francis Bacon's 'Study for a Portrait of P.L.' until April 16th. It will then exhibit in New York from May 3rd, ahead of being auctioned at Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Auction on May 14th.
Bacon first met former Battle of Britain pilot Peter Lacy in 1952, in Soho's Colony Room. Their ensuing intimate relationship was said to be marked by tempestuous, often violent passion. Lacy eventually moved away to Tangier in the mid 50's. In 1962, alongside telegrams of congratulations for his Tate exhibition, Bacon received the news of Lacy's early death from alcohol abuse.
As always, much can be interpreted from Bacon's intriguing, intimate art. Immediately striking in respect to the nature of Lacy's alcohol-related death is the inclusion of a glass of wine in this piece. The posthumous timing of 'Study for a Portrait of P.L.', painted only months after Peter Lacy's death in 1962, adds context to interpretations of the piece. With Bacon seemingly capturing his lover's character as he had intimately observed it, a surviving eulogy of his ill-fated lover.
A significant highlight of 'Study for a Portrait of P.L.' in Bacon's career is what appears to be the re-introduction of Picasso's influence, with the brushwork and physiognomy of Lacy's head reminiscent of early Picasso's early 'primitive heads'. This is possibly the first piece to exhibit formulaic change marking the direction of the artist’s work until his death over 25 years later. The impassioned portraits of close friends and lovers including George Dyer were surely influenced by 'Study for a Portrait of P.L.'
Francis Bacon enthusiasts are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to see this truly poignant piece of art being exhibited in public for the first time in around 40 years.
34-35 New Bond Street
London W1A 2AA
Tel: +44 20 7293 5000
Sotheby's New York 'Contemporary Art Evening Auction'
1334 York Avenue
New York 10021 US
Tel: +1 212 606 7000
Words/information referenced from: Sotheby's