John Edwards was Francis Bacon’s closest companion from the mid-1970s. Edwards and Bacon met in 1974 at the Colony Room in Soho and they were near-constant companions for much of the next 20 years. Bacon went as far as to say that Edwards was ‘the only true friend’ he had ever had.
Bacon’s depictions of Edwards show a gentleness and grace that was seldom used when painting his male companions. Edwards was the subject of more than twenty of Bacon’s paintings, including major works such as Portrait of John Edwards, 1988. In accordance with Bacon’s usual practice these works were painted entirely from photographs and from memory, never from real life.
The duo could often be found holidaying together or attending the ever more frequent international exhibitions for Bacon’s works. They visited restaurants, casinos and drinking clubs together, and Edwards was sometimes required to remove Bacon from situations in which his sharp tongue was causing trouble. More often Edwards intervened when he saw someone taking advantage of Bacon’s habitual generosity.
When Bacon died in 1992 John Edwards became his sole heir and in 1998 he donated the entire contents of the 7 Reece Mews Studio to the Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, where it has been fully reconstructed for public viewing. The reconstructed studio became an important endowment in Bacon’s native city and the plethora of objects gathered from the studio form an archive that is now a vital resource for Bacon studies.
Read more about the influence of John Edwards in Francis Bacon’s life and their close companionship on our website.
To explore the full oeuvre of Francis Bacon, Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné can be purchased through our distributer’s website.