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Francis
Bacon

Discover art for sale. Buy and sell prints & editions online by Post-war & Contemporary artist Francis Bacon. Exploring themes of trauma, sexuality, Catholicism and violence, Bacon's work quickly established itself as some of the most arresting and harrowing of the 20th century.

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Biography

Disturbing, tumultuous and largely autobiographical, Francis Bacon’s paintings are some of the most famous in the British Contemporary canon. Known for his tumultuous relationships and personal life, as well as for his famous sitters and circle of friends, Bacon painted the dark, tormented realities of human emotion. His unmistakable style saw him become one of the most renowned figures in British painting.

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.

Three Studies For A Portrait Of John Edwards by Francis Bacon

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

2. US$80.8M 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 Inspired By The Oresteia Of Aeschylus by Francis Bacon

Triptych Inspired By The Oresteia Of Aeschylus © Francis Bacon 1981

3. £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.

Triptych, 1976 by Francis Bacon

Triptych, 1976 © Francis Bacon 1976