Rarely seen Three Studies for a Portrait, 1976, is to be publicly displayed for free in New York and London, having already showcased in Hong Kong.
Bacon’s painting will be displayed as a highlight of Christie’s ‘The Eye of the Architect’ collection, which includes works by Pablo Picasso, Giorgio De Chirico, Fernand Léger, Joan Miró and Giorgio Morandi. The collection is a celebration of artists who sought to push the boundaries of tradition in their art. The exhibition of highlights from Christie’s collection precedes the auction of Three Studies for a Portrait, 1976 at a Post- War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 6 March 2018.
Previously the painting had not been available to the public since 1977, when it was last seen at the artist’s famed exhibition ‘Francis Bacon: Oeuvres Récentes’ at Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris. The 1977 opening saw some 8,000 people pass through the Paris gallery in just a few hours and police block off the street outside.
Bacon’s Three Studies for a Portrait, 1976, is an ode to his muse Henrietta Moraes. The piece is one of only six portraits of Moraes in Bacon’s iconic 14-by-12 inch triptych format and was developed from Study Of Henrietta Moraes, 1969.
Christie’s observe that the stark depiction of facial features and realist palette reveal the influence of Picasso on Bacon’s work, and that the abstract colour and texture in Three Studies for a Portrait, 1976, signaled a turning point in Bacon’s work following the ‘black triptych’ and self-portraits that he produced in the years after the death of his lover George Dyer in 1971.
Henrietta Moraes was one of Bacon’s Soho subjects and inspired many of his most celebrated works. She frequented bars such as the French House in an effort to meet Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud. It was in the French House over a glass of champagne that Bacon said to Moraes, ‘I’m thinking of doing some paintings of my friends.’ Bacon used nude photographs of Moraes lying on a bed taken by John Deakin as the basis for a number of paintings.
The Eye of the Architect highlights, Christie’s Hong Kong: 5 - 8 February 2018
New York: 8 - 15 February 2018
London: 20 February - 7 March 2018
*Please note all details including names, dates and featured works, opening days/hours are subject to change. Ahead of a visiting, we recommend contacting Christie’s for all confirmation regarding displays.
Word Ref: Christie’s press release and website article ‘5 minutes with... Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a Portrait’.