George died in 1971 in the hotel room at the time of the great Parisian consecration of Francis, the opening of the exhibition at the Grand Palais. In the five following years Francis will use all the resources of his art to break free from his suffering and his guilt.
A painting made in 1975 includes many elements of the artistic language of Francis. Two naked wrestlers mingle their bodies in a suspended showcase. They lost their individuality and have only one head that is altogether a portrait of George and a self-portrait by Francis.
Their struggle is a sporting event. George was a strong man who reminded to Francis the male muscular figures by Michelangelo. Their dynamic movement with the dual head on the floor of the cage is inspired by the gymnasts photographed by Muybridge. Francis himself revealed these sources of his inspiration.
Their life is ridiculously staged, as for Barnum. In the right side of the composition, the observer is an old headed dwarf perched on a bar stool.
Francis presents this artwork to the young Michael Peppiatt who is already his confidant and will soon be his biographer. Voyeurism now hinders the intimate message of the artist who gets the painting back to cut it in two parts before returning to Peppiatt the left side released from the dwarf. Titled Two figures, this oil on canvas now in the format unusual for the artist of 198 x 70 cm is estimated £ 5M for sale by Christie's in London on February 11, lot 25.
Peppiatt knew Bacon since 1963 and understood the difficulties in the relationship of Francis and George. He kept Two figures so far and is a sensational witness to the genesis of this artwork which he explains in the attached video. Do not miss also in the catalog page of the sale (lot 25 linked above) the transcript of his interview with Francis Outred of Christie's.
SOLD for £ 5.5M including premium