Francis Bacon (1909-1992)
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Francis Bacon (1909-1992)

House in Barbados

Francis Bacon (1909-1992)
House in Barbados
inscribed with the artist's monogram (lower right)
oil on canvas
26 x 21¾in. (66.2 x 55cm.)
Executed in 1952
Peter Lacy, London.
Hanover Gallery, London.
Erica Brausen, London.
Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris.
Galleria Galatea, Torino.
Acquired from the above by the present owner
circa 1975.
J. Rothenstein and R. Alley, Francis Bacon Catalogue Raisonné, London 1964, no. 38 (illustrated, p. 175).
Figurabile Francis Bacon, exh. cat., Museo Correr, Venice, 1993 (illustrated, p. 95).
M. Pepiatt, Francis Bacon, Anatomy of an Enigma, New York 1996 (illustrated, p. 146).
Turin, Galleria d'Arte Contemporanea Galatea, Selezione 5, 1964, no. 2.
Lugano, Museo dArte Moderna,Francis Bacon, 1993, no. 14 (illustrated, p. 39).
Milan, Palazzo Reale, Bacon, 2008, no. 12 (illustrated in colour, p. 98).
Ravenna, Museo d'Arte della cittá di Ravenna,Miseria e splendore della Carne Caravaggio, Courbet, Giacometti, Bacon Testori e la grande pittura europea, 2012 (illustrated in colour, p. 247).
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Lot Essay

'It was like the song I couldn't live with him, and I couldn't live without him' (F. Bacon quoted in M. Peppiatt, Francis Bacon in the 1950s, exh. cat., Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich 2006, p. 40).

Painted between the spring and summer of 1952, House in Barbados is an early tribute to Peter Lacy, the avowed love of Francis Bacon's life. Rendered from a photograph of Lacy's home in the Windward Islands, the artist was entreated to paint it in as careful detail as possible. Rarely would Bacon accede to such a request, however for Lacy, overtaken by his intense ardour, he made the exception. In House in Barbados, Bacon has faithfully rendered the architectural features of the fine, neo-classical entrance, capturing the modulation of light as it illuminates and partially obscures the hall in shadows. The great wooden doors, toasted by the sun, are flung open to reveal the cool, crisp interior. With a fine grid of painted grey lines, Bacon has undertaken the tiled floor, which leads into the bright blue of the dreamy Caribbean sky in the distance. With its sensitive illumination, Bacon has managed to distill the very quality of light in his smooth paint surface. Indeed House in Barbados recalls the delicate rendering undertaken by Velázquez in his View from the Villa Medici in Rome (Afternoon) (1650-1651), a reproduction of which Bacon kept in his studio.

Carried out in the early 1950s, House in Barbados was undertaken during a highly significant moment in Bacon's oeuvre. Painted at the Royal College of Art, it was realised shortly before the artist's seminal series of Popes in 1953 and his first portrait triptych painted in the same studio. During this period, Bacon was to have a brief secondment as a tutor at the Royal College, standing in as a deputy for John Minton in the autumn of 1950. He later returned in 1951 at the behest of Rodrigo Moynihan who had offered to lend his friend his Battersea studio. From 1951-1953, Bacon painted in these premises, creating some of his greatest, landmark works. The artist was then living between the spare room of a friend's house in Beaufort Gardens and Lacy's home in Hurst near Henley. The pair had met at the bar of Soho emporium the Colony Club, also known as Muriel's after the eponymous and formidable owner Muriel Belcher, and entered into a relationship that would prove passionate yet deprave, violent yet compelling. Whilst Bacon was known to have various indiscretions with many a conservative, well-suited man, the abiding influence of Lacy is felt in his definitive Man in Blue series begun in 1954.

In spite of all the ferocious fights, this did not handicap Bacon's ability to work. Instead the artist found a means of distilling his peripatetic, subversive existence onto canvas. Indeed, Bacon never ceased painting Lacy throughout the 1950s; most of the figurative paintings and portraits of this period including the Popes and the life masks of William Blake have an air of the troubled former RAF Spitfire pilot. In other paintings such as those of Lacy lying in repose however, Bacon reveals the real tenderness he felt for his caustic lover. As the artist was later to recount, 'being in love in that way, being absolutely physically obsessed by someone, is like an illness it's like a disease so ghastly I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy' (F. Bacon quoted in M. Peppiatt, Francis Bacon in the 1950s, exh. cat., Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich 2006, p. 40).

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