© The Estate of Francis Bacon
Eadweard Muybridge, "Woman Walking Downstairs, Picking up Pitcher, and Turning", plate 124 from The Human Figure in Motion, 1955 edition.
In the late 19th century, Eadweard Muybridge, with hitherto unknown accuracy, documented the movement of humans and animals in series of instantaneous photographs. Those images were a constant and fertile source of inspiration for Bacon, and many of his figures are directly based on Muybridge’s photographs. However, their reproductions in the books that he collected were often subject to both accidental and deliberate alterations before the figure was transferred onto the canvas. This torn page showing a ‘Woman Walking Downstairs, Picking up a Pitcher, and Turning’ became paint-splattered and dog-eared and a diagonal fold which deforms and distorts the nude was fixed by Bacon with a sewing needle. He furthermore emphasized the altered figure by surrounding it with black paint. The physical alteration of the image echoes distinctively in its painted version, the female nude in the left panel of Crucifixion, 1965.