Francis Bacon

1909-1992; b. 28 Oct., 63 Lwr. Baggot St., Dublin; son of English parents; his mother, Winifred Margaret née Supple, was wealthy from Yorkshire steel, his father an army captain, kept stables at Cannycourt Hse., nr. Kilcullen, Co. Kildare, and later at Straffan Lodge; deeply asthmatic, he was tutored at home; discovered his homosexuality with stable boys at 15; banished from by his father when he discovered trying on his mother’s clothes at 16; a grandmother who had settled at Farmleigh House, nr. Abbeyleix, provided shelter; left Ireland shortly after and embarked on career as modernist painter; first known as an interior designer; his painting Crucifixion 1933 was reproduced in Herbert Read, Art Now (1933);

rejected by Internat. Surrealist Exhibition as being insufficiently surreal; destroyed early paintngs in early 1940s; “Three Studies for Figures at the Base of the Crucifixion” (exhib.April 1945) as his first real work; his exhibited work, including Head III, was promoted by Wyndam Lewis in The Listener (May 1949); his study of the popes screaming after Velasquez's Pope Innocent X (1629), painted in 1953; subject of “Breaking Images”, a BBC3 radio programme (Sept. 2008; reiss. May 2009); his Head III (1949) fetched £10.4m in 2013; Bacon's studio was rebuilt in its entirely as a permanent exhibition at the Municipal Gallery, Dublin; there is a portrait by Louis le Brocquy - a compatriot and friend [q.v.]; an oil of a receding male figure was included in the Histories of Sexuality exhibition at the MAPA gallery in Sao Paolo in Autumn 2017.

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Colm Tóibín  Such a grip and twist: The life and work of Francis Bacon , in Dublin Review, 69 (Winter 2000) q.pp.]; Margarita Cappock, Francis Bacon's Studio (Merrell 2005), 240pp.; Michael Peppiatt, Francis Bacon in the 1950s (Yale UP 2009), 224pp. Tóibín, Love in a Dark Time: Gay Lives from Wilde to Almodovár (London: Picador) [incls. Thomas Mann, Francis Bacon, Elizabeth Bishop, James Baldwin, Thom Gunn, Mark Doty and the title personages].

See ‘The Truth Behind Francis Bacon’s Screaming Popes’, in Phaidon (2008) - online.

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Irish Bacon? Bacon remarked to the author and film-maker Michel Archimbaud: ‘You can’t really say that I’m Irish. It is true that I was born in Ireland and that there are some things that I like about Ireland, especially the way the people construct their sentences […]. Also, I suppose I’ve always cherished certain memories of the time when I lived in Ireland as a child. But my parents were English and I spent my childhood between England and Ireland.’ [undated newspaper, cutting.]

Head III: In 1949, Wright S. Ludington of California paid £150 for Head III by Bacon at the Hanover Gallery, Mayfair, London; in June 2013, the painting was sold to an unnamed private bidder for £10.4 million at Sothby’s, London.

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Bacon by le Brocquy
Francis Bacon by Louis le Brocquy