The model is famous : the portrait of Innocent X by Velazquez. As a precaution, Bacon would not see the original artwork for not altering his creative impetus. For over fifteen years, he executed about fifty paintings on this theme. The earliest were screaming their incompetence at offering a better world.
Around 1960, Bacon's popes become silent, as tragic as the screaming characters. The colors are brushed in powerful gestures that make the face unreadable and unidentifiable. He will proceed in the same way for some portraits of his friends in Soho. The throne becomes neutral but the atmosphere in red and crimson maintains the original message of political absurdity.
A Seated figure, oil on canvas 153 x 119 cm painted in 1960, is estimated $ 40 million for sale by Christie's in New York on November 12, lot 45.
On May 15, 2007, Sotheby's sold for $ 53M including premium a Study from Innocent X painted in 1962, 198 x 142 cm. It was at that time the highest price recorded at auction for any artwork by Bacon. The attitude of the character curled on his throne is altogether burlesque and tragic.