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Francis Bacon's art is among the most arresting and harrowing of the 20th century, exploring themes of trauma, sexuality, Catholicism and violence. If you’re looking for original Francis Bacon prints and editions for sale or would like to sell, request a complimentary valuation and browse our network’s most in-demand works.

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Disturbing, tumultuous and largely autobiographical, Francis Bacon’s paintings are some of the most famous in the British Contemporary canon. Known for his tormented relationships and personal life, as well as for his famous sitters and circle of friends, Bacon painted the dark realities of human emotion.

Bacon’s journey to becoming a painter was not without challenges. The artist was prevented from receiving a formal education due to his chronic asthma and was instead tutored at home, before leaving for Germany at the age of just 17. It was in Berlin, and then Paris, that Bacon developed an interest in art through his visits to galleries. On his return to London in the late 1920s, the artist embarked on a career as an interior decorator, largely inspired by Art Deco, and ventured into the world of painting.

In the 1930s Bacon began to achieve wider public recognition, particularly through his work Crucifixion (1933), a dark and sombre painting depicting a ghostly figure with its arms raised, loosely inspired by Picasso’s 1925 The Three Dancers.

However, it was only from the mid 1940s, through paintings like his 1944 triptych Three Studies For Figures At The Base Of A Crucifixion, that Bacon’s work was met with real critical success. The triptych, depicting biomorphic figures inspired by Christian imagery that represent the three Furies, caused a sensation when it was first exhibited. Now held in the Tate Britain, this work, with its rich orange backdrop and contorted, anguished forms, resonated significantly with a public coming to terms with the horrors of the Second World War. Important stylistically, this work also marked the beginning of Bacon’s enduring use of the triptych format, the combined use of pastel and oil paints, and the iconography of the distorted human figure.

In 1953, Bacon painted his Study After Velazquez’s Portrait Of Pope Innocent X, now one of Bacon’s most famous works. One of the first of a series of some 50 studies responding to Velazquez’s work, the painting is considered a fine example of the artist’s ability to reinterpret the classical western canon with a renewed intensity, darkness and modern drama. With works held in the most important galleries across the world, Bacon is widely acknowledged as one of the fore figures of modern art.

1. £89.4M for Francis Bacon's 3 Works: Studies Of Lucien Freud

Bacon and Freud met in 1945 and were almost inseparable for nearly three decades. Together they drank, gambled, gossiped and propelled each other’s arts to greater heights. During their friendship, Bacon made three triptychs of Freud – 3 Works: Studies Of Lucian Freud was the last one he created.

The three paintings were, for a few years, sold to different collectors but eventually were reunited again as a triptych. When the work came up for auction at Christie’s Post-War & Contemporary Evening Sale in New York on 12 November 2013, it was the subject of an intense six-minute bidding battle. At US$142.4 million, it remains the most expensive work by Bacon at auction today.

Triptych Inspired By The Oresteia Of Aeschylus by Francis Bacon

Triptych Inspired By The Oresteia Of Aeschylus © Francis Bacon 1981

2. £68.7M for Francis Bacon's Triptych Inspired By The Oresteia Of Aeschylus

Triptychs were one of Bacon’s favourite painting formats. “So far as my work has any quality, I often feel perhaps it is the triptychs that have the most quality,” he has said. Triptych Inspired By The Oresteia Of Aeschylus references the 5th century B.C. Greek tragedy Oresteia by Aeschylus – a tale of murder, revenge and justice. Aeschylus’s stories had struck a chord with Bacon’s own experiences, the artist has said the Ancient Greek tragedian’s books “open up the valves of sensation for me”.

Sotheby’s estimated the triptych around US$60 million but when it was offered in their Contemporary Art Evening Auction in New York on 29 June 2020, it soared to US$84.5 million.

Three Studies For A Portrait Of John Edwards by Francis Bacon

Three Studies For A Portrait Of John Edwards © Francis Bacon 1984

3. £47.7M for Francis Bacon's Three Studies For A Portrait Of John Edwards

Bacon met East London bartender John Edwards in the early 1970s, when Edwards was 22 years old and the artist was in his sixties. While Bacon’s other friends dismissed Edwards as “a typical East End diamond geezer”, the pair became close companions for 16 years. The artist nicknamed Edwards “Eggs” to his Bacon and even called him “my only true friend”. He left his £11 million estate to the young Londoner after his death.

Three Studies For A Portrait Of John Edwards sold in Christie’s Post-War & Contemporary Evening Sale in New York on 13 May 2014 for US$80.8 million to an anonymous Asian buyer, according to the Irish Times.

Triptych, 1976 by Francis Bacon

Triptych, 1976 © Francis Bacon 1976