The images below were recently released to publicize the Francis Bacon exhibition that opened a few days ago on the Compton Verney estate in Warwickshire, as described here. The show examines Bacon's relationship to the photographic fragments that accumulated knee-deep on the studio floor throughout his working life. The tattered photographs themselves are on loan from Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane where Bacon's heir, John Edwards, deposited them. Bacon spent a good part of his youth in Ireland, it's true, and was partly Irish, but he hated the whole country intensely and avoided the place as an adult. Rumor has it, however, that London's Tate Gallery (owner of more Bacon paintings than any other institution) turned Edwards down when offered the contents of Bacon's studio as a gift, and the Dublin arrangement was faute de mieux. Even though Bacon was extremely famous when he died in 1992, there are many signs that nobody anticipated how robustly his posthumous reputation would continue to swell. It's a safe bet that if given the chance over again today, the Tate would eagerly accept. Half a dozen scholarly books have already appeared based on research using the studio-floor scraps and remnants.
photograph of Francis Bacon
The Human Figure in Motion
Untitled 1949 painting
photograph of George Dyer
Portrait of John Edwards
Study for a Portrait of John Edwards
Untitled Sea Painting
To the best of my knowledge, the two unfinished paintings at bottom (from the Dublin collection) have never been published before. Pink and blue. Bacon's late work – done when he was in his 80s and his health was poor – is characterized by a clearer, cleaner palette than any he had used earlier.