Portrait of Francis Bacon by Lucian Freud to debut at auction

Portrait of Francis Bacon by Lucian Freud to debut at auction

A portrait of Lucian Freud by Francis Bacon goes up for auction for the first time (The Estate of Francis Bacon/DACSArtimage/PA)

A portrait of Lucian Freud by Francis Bacon goes up for auction for the first time (The Estate of Francis Bacon/DACSArtimage/PA)

A painting by Francis Bacon, which has not been seen publicly for nearly six decades, will go up for auction later this month, having remained in the same private European collection for 40 years.

Titled Portrait Study of Lucian Freud, it was painted by British artist Bacon in 1964 and based on a photograph of his contemporary art colleague Freud, taken the same year by the artists’ mutual friend John Deakin.

The painting, which will go on sale as part of the marquee auction at Sotheby’s British Art: The Jubilee Auction on June 29, was last seen in 1965, when it was on display as the center panel of a large-scale triptych as part of of a traveling exhibition to Hamburg and Stockholm.

(John Deakin/PA)

(John Deakin/PA)

It was also shown in Dublin on its own the same year.

Bacon and Freud had been friends for 20 years before Bacon’s creation of the Study for the Portrait of Lucian Freud, and they shared a friendship for over 40 years, before relationships soured and ended the relationship in the mid-1980s.

Both artists painted each other on several occasions, with Freud often painting from real life and Bacon preferring to work from photographs.

In the Lucian Freud Portrait Study case, Bacon used an image of Freud sitting on a bed with his arms outstretched, fists clenched, and white sleeves rolled up above his elbows.

Black and white photographs taken by photographer Deakin became Bacon’s main source of material as he obsessively painted Freud in the 1960s.

Of great personal significance, Bacon kept the photographs with him for the rest of his life, and they were rediscovered torn, crumpled and splattered with paint in his studio after his death in 1992, Sotheby’s said.

Speaking about the portrait before its sale, Sotheby’s Senior Director of Contemporary Art Tom Eddison said: “In this single portrait, we witness a masterpiece, illuminating the deep and complex relationship between two titans of the 20th century.

“It is difficult to think of two greater artists whose lives and works are so woven into the fabric of our consciousness than Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud.

“While muses and critics of each other, it was friendship, respect, rivalry and deep passion for one another that ended up fueling their unmistakable artistic talents.

The portrait will be auctioned for the first time on June 29 (The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved, DACSArtimage 2021/PA)

The portrait will be auctioned for the first time on June 29 (The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved, DACSArtimage 2021/PA)

“Executed with pictorial bravery at the height of Bacon’s acclaim, here we see a portrait that pulses with intensity, a tension that mirrors the emotions that have brought these two sparring partners together for more than four decades.

“Now, having remained completely invisible to the public for 57 years, this remarkable portrait will return to London as the highlight of the summer auction season.”

The portrait carries an estimate of over £35 million.

Along with Study for Portrait of Lucian Freud, the sale of Sotheby’s British Art: The Jubilee Season will also include other highlights: Banksy’s portrait of Sir Winston Churchill, a sculpture by Dame Barbara Hepworth, the four-foot tranquil portrait of David Hockney of Woldgate Woods, LS Lowry’s Town Square, view of JMW Turner of London and Flora Yukhnovich’s Boucher’s Flesh.

The live-streamed auction will begin at 5pm on June 29.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.