London, Berlin and Paris

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Following a disagreement with his father, Francis Bacon left home at the age of 16. After a stay in London, he travelled to the louche Berlin of the late 1920s where he savoured the excitement of the city during the decline of the Weimar Republic. However, it was in Paris that Bacon found a new sense of purpose. An exhibition of drawings by Picasso at the Galerie Paul Rosenberg inspired Bacon to become an artist.

These were by no means the only influences on Bacon at this time. He must have encountered Surrealism in art, poetry and film and may have seen Soutine and de Chirico's solo exhibitions held in the summer of 1927. Sergei Eisentein's famous film, Battleship Potemkin, (1925) also had a major impact on Bacon. The blood-splattered face of the screaming nurse in this film was an enduring image for the artist and one that featured in many of his paintings, most significantly Study for the Head of a Screaming Pope, 1952.