Like his fellow Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon desires to express life. Their methods are nevertheless in total opposition. Francis does not wish to compose an image : he seeks the spontaneity. He does not inspect the model on live but is working from photographs. Each personality is complex and a single image is not enough : this is the root cause of the choice of the artist to make triptychs and, less frequently, diptychs.
In 1969, Francis Bacon paints from three instantaneous photos the portrait in triptych of Lucian Freud, which was sold for $ 142M including premium by Christie's on November 12, 2013. Francis is 60 years old. His quest for immediacy is already accompanied by the anxiety on his inability to stop his own aging.
In real life, he takes fun at the expense of George Dyer but his Soho friends have also aged. Henrietta is increasingly ugly. A surprising portrait on which the woman is slipping away backwards from the picture frame remained unsold at Christie's on October 19, 2008. Francis looks again at his own face. A self-portrait with a sad gaze, 35 x 40 cm, was sold for $ 33M including premium by Sotheby's on 14 November 2007.
In 1970, Francis is desperately seeking a solution to his equation of time. He paints less and less because his old themes are no longer acceptable to him. He executes a self-portrait in diptych 35 x 30 cm per element. His attire is relaxed but the position of the head is haughty : Francis is alone in front of himself. The exuberant expressionist colors accentuate the total control of his art.
Titled Two studies for a self portrait, this work is estimated $ 22M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on May 11, lot 8. I invite you to watch the video shared by the auction house. The optimistic interpretation made by Sotheby's may be questioned but their conclusion that it is the finest self-portrait by Francis Bacon is highly acceptable.
SOLD for $ 35M including premium