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Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty

B&W photography (torn fragment) of Franis Bacon by John Deakin. © The Estate of Francis Bacon. Francis Bacon Archive, Hugh Lane Gallery

  • Exhibitions

28 October 2009 - 07 March 2010

B&W photography (torn fragment) of Franis Bacon by John Deakin. © The Estate of Francis Bacon. Francis Bacon Archive, Hugh Lane Gallery

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty celebrates the centenary of Francis Bacon’s birth in 63, Lower Baggot Street, Dublin. This exhibition comprising paintings, drawings, photographs, unfinished works and slashed canvases offers the viewer an astonishing new look at Francis Bacon, the great figurative painter of the 20th century. It provides an opportunity to reappraise his oeuvre through the selected paintings, several of which have not been on public exhibition for many years. The mastery of Francis Bacon is revealed through these works, supported by an extensive and previously unseen selection of items from Bacon’s Studio.

Following on the donation of the Studio to the Hugh Lane by John Edwards in 1998, the 7,000 plus items retrieved from the studio were archived by The Hugh Lane. Francis Bacon’s Studio has been on permanent exhibition at Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane since 2001. It is acknowledged as one of the most pioneering and successful realisations of preserving and displaying an artist’s studio and contents. The database is unprecedented, documenting every item retrieved, thus providing fascinating insights into Bacon’s working processes.

The exhibition is co-curated by Barbara Dawson and Martin Harrison. It is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue that presents important new research on the artist. This is available from the gallery bookshop.

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty is one of the major European cultural events of 2009. The exhibition tours to Compton Verney, Warwickshire, England, from 27 March to 20 June 2010.

The exhibition is supported by The Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, Fáilte Ireland, The Irish Times and RTé Supporting the Arts.

Images (C) 2009 The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved / DACS, London

Profile

Born in 63, Lr Baggot Street, Dublin in 1909 to English parents. Bacon’s father A. E. M. (Eddy) Bacon was a former Major in the British Army. When he retired he and his wife Winifred (neé Firth ) came to live in Ireland. He set up a racing stables in County Kildare near the Curragh. The family first lived in Cannycourt near Kilcullen. They moved back to London for the duration of WW1. Upon their return they lived in Farmleigh, County Laois until 1920, when they settled in Straffan Lodge, County Kildare where Francis lived until the age of 16. He was the second child in a family of five siblings. Harley was the eldest, then Francis, followed by Edward, Ianthe and Winifred. Francis was home-schooled apart from a brief period at Dean Close a boarding school in Cheltenham (1924-26).

Unlike his parents, Francis loathed hunting and the outdooors. He was chronic asmatic and bouts of asthma were regularly brought on by horse and dog hair. However he was known to have regularly played tennis in Naas tennis club. Following several disagreements with his father, Francis left home in 1926. He first went to London and then travelled around Europe living for periods in Berlin and France. Settling in London in 1929 he began working as an interior designer. He quickly lost interest in this and concentrated on his painting creating Crucifixions I & II in 1933. In 1934 he organises an unsuccessful solo exhibition in the Transition Gallery, Curzon Street, London and, in 1937 takes part in a show of ten Young British Painters at Agnew’s. As time went on he became frustrated with his work and he destroyed all but 10 of his paintings. In 1945, he re-emerges with the shocking and profoundly moving triptych, Three Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion which was exhibited at the Lefevre Gallery to uproar and great critical acclaim. His career went from strength to strength with multiple significant exhibitions staged internationally throughout his lifetime. In 2013 his triptych Three Studies of Lucian Freud 1969 was sold for $142.4 million, making it the most expensive artwork ever auctioned.

In 1961, Francis Bacon moved to 7, Reece Mews, London and remained working in that studio until his death in 1992. In 1998, his heir, John Edwards donated Bacon’s studio to Hugh Lane Gallery, where it opened to the public in 2001.

Francis Bacon, Portrait of John Edwards
Collection & image © Hugh Lane Gallery.
Donated by John Edwards, 2003.
© The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved/DACS.

Francis Bacon, Kneeling Figure-Back View, c. 1982,
Collection & image © Hugh Lane Gallery.

Francis Bacon, Figure with Raised Arm, c, 1952.
Collection & image © Hugh Lane Gallery.

Francis Bacon, Seated Figure and Carpet, c. 1966.
Collection & image © Hugh Lane Gallery.

Francis Bacon, Head of Woman, 1960. On Loan from Private Collection

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

Francis Bacon: A Terrible Beauty installation view. Images by Denis Mortell

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