Three Studies for a Portrait of Henrietta Moraes is an oil on canvas 1963 triptych by the Irish-born British figurative painter Francis Bacon. It is one of a series of portraits he painted of his friends, at a time when his art was becoming more personal. Henrietta Moraes (1933–1999) was a close friend and drinking companion of Bacon's from the early 1960s, and became one of his favourite models. She never posed in person for him; instead he worked either from photographs commissioned from John Deakin or from memory.
A triptych is a work of art that is divided into three sections, or three carved panels that are hinged together and can be folded shut or displayed open. It is therefore a type of polyptych, the term for all multi-panel works. The middle panel is typically the largest and it is flanked by two smaller related works, although there are triptychs of equal-sized panels. The form can also be used for pendant jewelry.
Francis Bacon was an Irish-born British figurative painter known for his emotionally charged raw imagery and fixation on personal motifs. Best known for his depictions of popes, crucifixions and portraits of close friends, his abstracted figures are typically isolated in geometrical cages which give them vague 3D depth, set against flat, nondescript backgrounds. Bacon said that he saw images "in series", and his work, which numbers c. 590 extant paintings along with many others he destroyed, typically focuses on a single subject for sustained periods, often in triptych or diptych formats. His output can be broadly described as sequences or variations on single motifs; including the 1930s Picasso-influenced bio-morphs and Furies, the 1940s male heads isolated in rooms or geometric structures, the 1950s screaming popes, the mid-to-late 1950s animals and lone figures, the early 1960s crucifixions, the mid to late 1960s portraits of friends, the 1970s self-portraits, and the cooler more technical 1980s paintings.
Henrietta Moraes, born Audrey Wendy Abbott, was a British artists' model and memoirist. During the 1950s and 1960s, she was the muse and inspiration for many artists of the Soho subculture, including Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, and Maggi Hambling, and also known for her three marriages and numerous love affairs. She left her first husband, Michael Law, and married actor Norman Bowler, with whom she had two children. She later married the Indian writer Dom Moraes.
Comparing the panels to Giorgione's self-portrait in the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Brunswick, art critic John Russell wrote, "This is the most ... that can be said in painting at this time about human beauty".
Giorgione was an Italian painter of the Venetian school during the High Renaissance from Venice, who died in his thirties. Giorgione is known for the elusive poetic quality of his work, though only about six surviving paintings are firmly attributed to him. The uncertainty surrounding the identity and meaning of his work has made Giorgione one of the most mysterious figures in European art.
The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum (HAUM) is an art museum in the German city of Braunschweig, Lower Saxony.
John Russell CBE was a British American art critic.
Three Studies for a Portrait of Henrietta Moraes is one of Bacon's most intimate portraits, described by art critic John Russell as a portrait of a person known by the artist "as minutely as one human being can know another".The frames are not intended as a narrative, that is not intended to be read from left to right. More Bacon sought to capture different aspects of her appearance, and to reveal her, as he put it, in the 'most elemental state'.
Each panel shows a tightly cropped image of Moraes' head. She fills each of the small canvases, with the background reduced to areas of flat black paint.Her face is contorted to varying degrees in each, a technique reminiscent of some of Picasso's late period female portraits. In fact, the distortions of Bacon's panels are restrained by the standards of his late 60s and early 70s portraits, in which of some the sitter's faces disappears completely, replaced by eye sockets, or smears of broad paint representing caved in cheek or jaw bones. Consistent with this approach, some of Moraes' features are depicted with a heightened intensity, while others are "obliterated".
This relative restraint adds to the stately dignity of this work. Bacon did not intend his distortions or chromatic swirls - often applied by a brush with a towel- as is often assumed, as gratuitous indicators of violence or despair, more they were to indicate the effects of time, age and life on the sitter's physical features. In these works, one of Moraes' eyes is enlarged and fixed squarely on the viewer as the rest of her face melts into chaos. Art historian Lawrence Gowling describes the painting in terms of an attempt to capture the "pigment-figment" of close friends. While using tools such as towels to apply broad streaks of paint was chancy and indicated the gambler aspect to his personality, Bacon was sustained by a painterly ability built up by over 25 years as an artist.
John Deakin was an English photographer, best known for his work centred on members of Francis Bacon's Soho inner circle. Bacon based a number of famous paintings on photographs he commissioned from Deakin, including Portrait of Henrietta Moraes, Henrietta Moraes on a Bed and Three Studies of Lucian Freud.
Second Version of Triptych 1944 is a 1988 triptych painted by the Irish-born artist Francis Bacon. It is a reworking of Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, 1944, Bacon's most widely known triptych, and the one which established his reputation as one of England's foremost post-war painters.
Triptych, May–June 1973 is a triptych completed in 1973 by the Irish-born artist Francis Bacon (1909–1992). The oil-on-canvas was painted in memory of Bacon's lover George Dyer, who committed suicide on the eve of the artist's retrospective at Paris's Grand Palais on 24 October 1971. The triptych is a portrait of the moments before Dyer's death from an overdose of pills in their hotel room. Bacon was haunted and preoccupied by Dyer's loss for the remaining years of his life and painted many works based on both the actual suicide and the events of its aftermath. He admitted to friends that he never fully recovered, describing the 1973 triptych as an exorcism of his feelings of loss and guilt.
Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X is a 1953 painting by the artist Francis Bacon. The work shows a distorted version of the Portrait of Innocent X painted by Spanish artist Diego Velázquez in 1650. The work is one of the first in a series of around 50 variants of the Velázquez painting which Bacon executed throughout the 1950s and early 1960s. The paintings are widely regarded as highly successful modern re-interpretations of a classic of the western canon of visual art.
Fragment of a Crucifixion is an unfinished 1950 painting by the Irish-born figurative painter Francis Bacon. It shows two animals engaged in an existential struggle; the upper figure, which may be a dog or a cat, crouches over a chimera and is at the point of kill. It stoops on the horizontal beam of a T-shaped structure, which may signify Christ's cross. The painting contains thinly sketched passer-by figures, who appear as if oblivious to the central drama.
Study for a Self-Portrait—Triptych, 1985–86 is a triptych painted between 1985 and 1986 by the Irish born artist Francis Bacon. It is a brutally honest examination of the effect of age and time on the human body and spirit, and was painted in the aftermath of the deaths of many of his close friends.
The Irish-born artist Francis Bacon (1909–1992) painted 28 known triptychs between 1944 and 1986. He began to work in the format in the mid-1940s with a number of smaller scale formats before graduating in 1962 to large examples. He followed the larger style for 30 years, although he painted a number of smaller scale triptychs of friend's heads, and after the death of his former lover George Dyer in 1971, the three Black Triptychs.
Head VI is an oil-on-canvas painting by the Irish-born figurative artist Francis Bacon, the last of six panels making up his "1949 Head" series. It shows a bust view of a single figure, modeled on Diego Velázquez's Portrait of Innocent X. Bacon applies forceful, expressive brush strokes, and places the figure within a glass cage structure, behind curtain-like drapery. This gives the effect of a man trapped and suffocated by his surroundings, screaming into an airless void.
Portrait of Isabel Rawsthorne Standing in a Street in Soho is a 1967 oil on canvas painting by the British figurative artist Francis Bacon, housed in the Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin. Described by art critic John Russell as one of Bacon's finest works, it depicts Isabel Rawsthorne, the painter, designer and occasional model for artists such as André Derain, Alberto Giacometti and Picasso.
Triptych–August 1972 is an oil on canvas triptych by the British artist Francis Bacon (1909–1992). It was painted in memory of Bacon's lover George Dyer who committed suicide on 24 October 1971, the eve of the artist's retrospective at Paris's Grand Palais, then the highest honour Bacon had received.
Portrait of George Dyer and Lucian Freud was a 1967 oil on canvas painting by the Irish-born artist Francis Bacon, which he destroyed before it left his studio, though it was photographed and is highly regarded by art critics. Bacon was a ruthless self critic, and often abandoned paintings mid-work, or slashed finished canvases; something he often later regretted.
Head I is a relatively small oil and tempera on hardboard painting by the Irish-born British figurative artist Francis Bacon. Completed in 1948, it is the first in a series of six heads, the remainder of which were painted the following year in preparation for a November 1949 exhibition at the Hanover Gallery in London. Like the others in the series, it shows a screaming figure alone in a room, and focuses on the open mouth. The work shows a skull which has disintegrated on itself and is largely a formless blob of flesh. The entire upper half has disappeared, leaving only the jaw, mouth and teeth and one ear still intact. It is the first of Bacon's paintings to feature gold background railings or bars; later to become a prominent feature of his 1950s work, especially in the papal portraits where they would often appear as enclosing or cages around the figures. It is not known what influences were behind the image; most likely they were multiple – press or war photography, and critic Denis Farr detects the influence of Matthias Grünewald.
Head II is an oil and tempera on hardboard painting by the Irish-born British figurative artist Francis Bacon. Completed in 1948, it is the second in a series of six heads, painted from the winter of 1948 in preparation for a November 1949 exhibition at the Hanover Gallery, London.
Portrait of Michel Leiris is a 1976 oil on canvas panel painting by the Irish born, English artist Francis Bacon. It is the first of second portraits Bacon made of his close friend, the French surrealist writer and anthropologist Michel Leiris; the second followed in 1978.
Blood on the Floor is a 1986 oil-on-canvas panel painting by the Irish born, English artist Francis Bacon. The panel shows a violent splash of blood, formed from drips of paint, on a bare canvas coloured floor, which may be a wooden plank, or diving board, against a harsh, flat, orange background. The background contains two suspended light bulbs, one white, one molten yellow, and a light switch.
Version No. 2 of Lying Figure with Hypodermic Syringe is a 1968 oil on canvas panel painting by the Irish born, English artist Francis Bacon. It is the second of two similarly titled paintings based on nude photographs of his close friend Henrietta Moraes, who is shown in a reclining position on a bed, themselves part of a wider series of collapsed figures on beds that began with the 1963 triptych Lying Figure. This later version is widely considered the more successful of the two panels.
Three Studies of Muriel Belcher is an oil on canvas triptych painting by the Irish born English artist Francis Bacon, completed in 1966. It portrays Muriel Belcher, described by musician George Melly as a "benevolent witch", and the charismatic founder and proprietress of The Colony Room Club, a private drinking house at 41 Dean Street, Soho, London, where Bacon was a regular throughout the late 1940s to late 1960s. The two became friends soon after she opened the club in 1948, and Bacon helped her cultivate its reputation as a seedy but convivial meeting place for artists, writers, musicians, homosexuals and bohemians. At its height, regular patrons included Lucian Freud, Jeffrey Bernard, John Deakin and Henrietta Moraes.
Three Studies for a Self-Portrait is an oil on canvas triptych painting by the Irish born English artist Francis Bacon. Two of paintings are signed and dated 1979, and the third signed and dated 1979-1980. The work can be viewed as a penetrating self-examinations undertaken in the aftermath of the suicide of his lover George Dyer, and as one of a series of inward looking self-portraits completed during the 1970s. Bacon was seventy at the time, but appears as ageless.
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