The grief behind bacon's self-portrait

 INDUSTRY NEWS     |      2019-07-23 11:23

"I have no one to draw but myself" : Francis Bacon's self-portrait (1975)

Written in 1975, self-portrait is undoubtedly one of the best examples of Francis Bacon's famous self-portrait. His series of self-portraits are acknowledged to be so successful that they rank with Rembrandt, van gogh and Picasso, the great masters of art history. The effect of color and techniques fully display bacon's unique creative characteristics, self-portrait in the form of self-questioning and reflection, is worthy of a brilliant masterpiece.

Francis Bacon, self-portrait, 1975, estimated at £15m-20m

The 1970s were considered bacon's most introspective period of work, and since the sudden death of his lover, George dale, in 1971, violent self-portraits have become a hallmark of his work. Bacon is aware of dale's life tragedy, his guilt and remorse never really rest. He created a series of large "black triplets" from 1971 to 1974 to try to exorcised the grief of dale's death.

"I've done a lot of self-portraits because the people around me are passing away like fireflies, and I don't have anyone else to paint them."

-- Francis Bacon and David Sylvester, 1975, David Sylvester: a look back on Francis Bacon.

As bacon created his triplets, his self-portraits became more complex. In these sorrowful works, from the grand to the delicate (just 14 x 12 inches), the painter incarnates the earthly symbol of melancholy. He leans on the washbasin, looks incomplete, or carefully painted watches, to emphasize the impermanence of life. No matter how large or detailed the scale, the self-portraits are reminiscent of Oscar Wilde's the picture of dorian gray: bacon hides his grief in real life, and the canvas is the true face of his pain. Bacon's main expression of sadness came to an end with the black triad of 1974, but as he grew older and died, dale's soul and self-portrait techniques continued to have a lasting impact.

The artist
Francis Bacon

Shortly after George dale died in 1971, bacon's soho friend and Vogue photographer John deacon died. Muriel belcher, the founder of the famous soho Colony Room, died in 1979. Sonia Orwell, who led bacon's links with French intellectuals, died in 1980 after a long battle with cancer. They left bacon, drawing a quote from him: "I have painted many self-portraits, because the people around me have passed away like fireflies, and I have no one to paint but myself." Quoted (Francis Bacon, Francis ・ bacon with David ・ Sylvester dialogue, in 1975, is available on the David ・ Sylvester: review of Francis Bacon "), however, complete this bacon in the mid - 70 - s, the metropolitan museum of art retrospective held for him was unveiled at the time, and his development is booming in Paris, tonal change led to creation, marks an important style of the late start.


Self-portrait (1975) clearly captures moments of movement, but bacon's features remain intact. In the years since his death, dyer's self-portraits have been characterized by subtle contortions of facial form and the weariness of time. This painting, however, has none of these qualities. Instead, it radiates intense youthful energy.
When bacon was asked to explain his works, he was always reticent, insisting that his paintings did not express anything. However, there are many academic studies on his works, and art historians analyze their various metaphors and implications. From bacon's use of a wealth of material, inspired by different directions of research.


Driven initially by his own masochism, bacon drove himself deeper into guilt, returning to the hotel where dale committed suicide, 48 hours before the opening of bacon's grand palace retrospective. Paris is the center of bacon's artistic ambition, but also the place where he achieved his creative career because of dale's death. As his time in Paris increased with each visit, he needed a suitable place to work, and in June 1975 (shortly after the completion of this work) he set up his studio at 14 rue bishage, marche. In 1977, bacon's exhibition at Claude Bernard gallery was an unprecedented success, which gradually established his legendary status in Paris, and his creation became a sign of The Times. Much of his work in the mid - to late 1970s captured the intellectual energy of Paris, while mixing melancholy with introspective contemplation.

This is a moment of clarity, when the painter, who has suffered so much grief over the past four years, is slowly coming out of it. Bacon's face, depicted in the painting, looks completely relieved. This work shows the painter's passionate self, his confidence in his craft, and testifies to his supreme achievement in creation.