For the first Catalogue Raisonné Focus of 2019 we are taking a closer look at Francis Bacon’s first painting of 1966, Portrait of George Dyer Crouching. The origins of this painting can be traced back to a note written in Bacon’s diary on 4 January of the same year, which said, ‘George crouching looking at shirt.’ This piece was created using oil on canvas and depicts a naked Dyer squatting, his twisted body angled towards the garment, which serves as a cipher for his reflection.
This work, alongside nine others, make up a group of thematically unified paintings of Bacon’s lover George Dyer. In the ‘Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonne’, 2016, Volume III, Martin Harrison FSA talks about the inspiration behind this collection of works:
‘The paintings document Bacon’s despair at life’s round of birth, copulation and death, mediated through images that also convey his impatience with perceived deficiencies in Dyer. Cumulatively they represent one of the most unflinching, even harrowing, serial portrayals in art history.’
The other pieces in this sub-category are Portrait of George Dyer Staring at Blind-Cord, 1966, Portrait of George Dyer Talking, 1966, Portrait of George Dyer Riding a Bicycle, 1966, Portrait of George Dyer, 1967, Portrait of George Dyer Staring into a Mirror, 1967, Portrait of George Dyer and Lucian Freud, 1967, Two Studies of George Dyer with Dog, 1968, Portrait of George Dyer in a Mirror, 1968, and Two Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer, 1968.
The 1960s proved to be a decade in which Bacon produced many portraits of Dyer, whom he met in 1963, and other sitters such as Henrietta Moraes, Isabella Rawsthorne, and his contemporary Lucian Freud. But it was Bacon’s ultimately tragic relationship with the petty criminal from the East End which provided the basis for some of the artists most well- known and moving works, including Triptych May-June, 1973, which confronts the moment of Dyers death.
If you’d like to order a copy of the Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné please visit Heni Publishing’s website.
Excerpt: Martin Harrison, FSA. 66-01 Portrait of George Dyer Crouching, 1961, Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné, 2016, Volume III, p794-795.
Word ref: The Estate of Francis Bacon website