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Francis Bacon's Study for Self-Portrait
Extremely rare in the artist's oeuvre, Study for Self-Portrait (1964) is a poignant and exceptionally intimate painting by Francis Bacon, which marries the artist's face to the figure of friend and fellow painter, Lucian Freud. It represents one of only twelve, floor-length self-portraits ever to be realised by Francis Bacon, four of which are now held in international museum collections including: Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, National Museum Wales, Cardiff and Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal. The present work is the only of these appointed 'self-portraits' to undertake the all-consuming, almost devotional act of conflating the two artists' physiognomies. Deeply contorted, Bacon's piercing eyes, fleshy lips and rounded jaw are still instantly recognisable, while the lean, sculpted limbs and lithe serpentine of the body is unmistakably Lucian Freud. Bacon never painted from life, preferring instead to use the still photographic image; in Study for Self-Portrait, these elements are plucked and fused from John Deakin's renowned photo shoot of both men undertaken in 1964. Painter to painter, Bacon and Freud greatly impacted one another, the present work arriving at the very height of their relationship. Arguably the moment of greatest personal and professional contentment in Bacon's career, Study for Self-Portrait was painted shortly after the artist's breakthrough retrospective at the Tate Gallery, London in 1962, and the year after his first major American exhibition at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. In this powerfully resolved painting, the artist has combined sensational colour with raw flashes of canvas and an impulsive, dynamic face with a perfectly realised muscular figure. The smooth curves of the calf and trouser leg are reflected in the fluid swathes of paint used to capture the face. Colours abound, with orange and green highlighting the powerful forearm. Soaked into the deepest recesses of the painting, Bacon has applied a layer of inky blue, which closely traces the contours of the human figure. For many years Study for Self-Portrait formed part of the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation; a major collection that championed contemporary British painters such as Bacon, Bridget Riley, Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff, Graham Sutherland and Peter Blake.

Special Features

  1. Francis Bacon's Study for Self-Portrait
  2. Two Works by Yves Klein