Anthony Zych was the last of several young artists whom Bacon patronised, though he was to resent his subsequent success.
Martin Harrison writes in the Catalogue Raisonné:
“Bacon was indignant when Zych gave an interview in which he lavishly praised Jackson Pollock, and the imagery in this painting may have been intended partly as a sharp rebuke.”
Excerpt: Martin Harrison, Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné (London: The Estate of Francis Bacon Publishing, 2016 p. 1390).
Indeed, in its early stages Zych had thought the portrait appeared to be a crucifixion, though he was not to see it again until a year after Bacon’s death in 1992.
When he did get to see Study from the Human Body, 1991, Zych noted its ‘passport-photo likeness, at least in the portrayal of the head and face’. This is despite the fact that, as Katharina Günther has identified in her book Metamorphoses, the likeness was also derived from a photograph of boxer Yvon Durelle.
Bacon also ‘borrowed’ the front-facing leg for the painting, from an anatomical drawing in Bridgman’s Guide to Drawing from Life (1959).
The fact that Bacon was still producing such structurally challenging and emotive artworks at the age of 82 is testament to his will to paint. As he put it himself:
“We are born and we die, but in between we give this purposeless existence a meaning by our drives.”
Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné can be purchased through our distributor’s website