Three Studies of Lucian Freud

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Three Studies of Lucian Freud
Three Studies of Lucian Freud.jpg
Artist Francis Bacon
Year1969 (1969)
Medium Oil on canvas [1]
Subject Lucian Freud
Dimensions198 cm× 147.5 cm(78 in× 58 in);for each canvas
Owner Elaine Wynn [2]

Three Studies of Lucian Freud is a 1969 oil-on-canvas [1] triptych by the Irish-born British painter Francis Bacon, depicting artist Lucian Freud. It was sold in November 2013 for US$ 142.4 million, which at the time was the highest price attained at auction for a work of art when not factoring in inflation. That record was surpassed in May 2015 by Version O of Picasso's Les Femmes d'Alger series. [3]

Contents

Background

Bacon and Freud were friends but artistic rivals. [4] Introduced in 1945 by artist Graham Sutherland, they swiftly became close friends who met frequently. The two artists painted each other several times, starting in 1951, when Freud first sat for Bacon. [5] Two full-length triptychs of Freud by Bacon resulted. Three Studies of Lucian Freud is the later of the two; the first one, created in 1966, has not been seen since 1992. [6] They form part of a series of large triptych portraits of Bacon's friends painted in the 1960s; other subjects include Isabel Rawsthorne, Muriel Belcher and his (Bacon's) partner George Dyer. [7] Bacon and Freud's friendship ended after an argument in the mid-1970s. [5]

Description

All three panels, in Bacon's typical abstract, distorted, isolated style, [8] show Freud sitting on a cane-bottomed wooden chair within a cage, on a curved mottled-brown surface with a solid orange background. Behind each figure is a headboard of a bed, originating in a set of photographs of Freud by John Deakin which Bacon used as a reference. [1] Michael Peppiatt writes "Trapped here in a series of Baconian cages, a contorted Freud hovers from panel to panel like a coiled spring about to shoot out of the flat, airless picture plane." [9] The central panel portrays the figure face on, in a pose similar to that Bacon used for George Dyer, his lover. Brett Gorvy of Christie's considers the work to represent "a marriage of the incredibly important people in Bacon's life." [10] The three canvases of the triptych are the same size and are each individually framed. [1] The colouring is brighter than is typical of Bacon's works. [11]

Francis Outred of Christie's describes the 1969 triptych as "a true masterpiece" and "an undeniable icon of 20th Century art" which "marks Bacon and Freud's relationship, paying tribute to the creative and emotional kinship between the two artists." [6] Art historian Ben Street describes the work as "not an A-grade Bacon." [5] It was among Bacon's favourites of his works. [6]

History

The triptych was painted in 1969 at the Royal College of Art in London, where Bacon had a large enough studio to work on three adjacent canvases simultaneously. [10] [12] It was first exhibited in 1970 at the Galleria d'Arte Galatea in Turin, and then was included in a retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris and the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf in 1971–72. [1] [12] The three panels of the triptych were sold separately in the mid-1970s. [12] Bacon was unhappy that the panels had been split up, writing on a photograph of the left-hand panel that it was "meaningless unless it is united with the other two panels." [6] The panels were held by different collectors until the late 1980s, when one of the original purchasers, a collector from Rome named in some sources as Francesco De Simone Niquesa, reassembled the work. [10] [13] The reassembled triptych was exhibited in the US, at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut in 1999, but the entire work was not exhibited in the UK until October 2013. [6]

On 12 November 2013, the triptych sold for US$ 142.4 million (including the buyer's premium) to Elaine Wynn [2] at Christie's New York auction house, nominally becoming the most expensive work of art ever to be sold at auction. [4] [5] [12] [13] When inflation is taken into account, a higher price was reached at the same auction house for Van Gogh's Portrait of Dr. Gachet , which in 1990 sold for $163 million current dollars. Bacon's triptych did surpass the constant dollar record of $119.9 million set by the fourth version of Edvard Munch's The Scream in May 2012. [4] [14] The 2013 sale also represents the highest price paid for a work by a British or Irish artist, beating Bacon's Triptych 1976 , which fetched $86.3 million in May 2008. [4] [13] [15]

Related Research Articles

Christies British auction house

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Francis Bacon (artist) Irish-born British figurative painter, 1909–1992

Francis Bacon was an Irish-born British figurative painter known for his raw, unsettling imagery. Focusing on the human form, his subjects included crucifixions, portraits of popes, self-portraits, and portraits of close friends, with abstracted figures sometimes isolated in geometrical structures. Rejecting various classifications of his work, Bacon said he strove to render "the brutality of fact." He built up a reputation as one of the giants of contemporary art with his unique style.

Lucian Freud British painter and engraver

Lucian Michael Freud was a British painter and draughtsman, specialising in figurative art, and is known as one of the foremost 20th-century English portraitists. He was born in Berlin, the son of Jewish architect Ernst L. Freud and the grandson of Sigmund Freud. Freud got his first name "Lucian" from his mother in memory of the ancient writer Lucian of Samosata. His family moved to England in 1933 to escape the rise of Nazism. From 1942 to 1943 he attended Goldsmiths College, London. He served at sea with the British Merchant Navy during the Second World War.

Triptych Artwork divided into three parts

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.

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John Deakin

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.

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<i>Portrait of Isabel Rawsthorne Standing in a Street in Soho</i>

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<i>Portrait of George Dyer and Lucian Freud</i>

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<i>Triptych, 1976</i> Triptych by Francis Bacon

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<i>Three Studies for a Crucifixion</i>

Three Studies for a Crucifixion is a 1962 triptych oil painting by Francis Bacon. It was completed in March 1962 and comprises three separate canvases, each measuring 198.1 by 144.8 centimetres. The work is held by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

<i>Version No. 2 of Lying Figure with Hypodermic Syringe</i>

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.

<i>Three Studies of Muriel Belcher</i>

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.

<i>Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus</i> Triptych by Francis Bacon

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References

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  2. 1 2 ""Tax Break Flap Over Painting Dogs" Elaine Wynn". Reviewjournal.com. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  3. "Picasso's Women of Algiers smashes auction record". BBC . 11 May 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
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  5. 1 2 3 4 Sherwin, Adam (13 November 2013). "When Lucian met Francis: Relationship that spawned most expensive painting ever sold". The Independent . Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 "Bacon painting of Freud expected to fetch $85m (£53m)". BBC. 10 October 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  7. Hyman, J. "Bacon, Francis (1909–1992)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , Oxford University Press, 2004 (accessed 14 November 2013) (subscription required)
  8. "Francis Bacon Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works". The Art Story. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  9. Peppiatt M. "Francis Bacon: Three Studies of Lucian Freud", Caravaggio/Bacon, 2010 (quoted in )
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  11. Jones, Jonathan (12 November 2013). "Why Francis Bacon deserves to beat The Scream's record-breaking pricetag". The Guardian . Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  12. 1 2 3 4 "Bacon painting fetches record price". BBC. 12 November 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  13. 1 2 3 Swaine, Jon (13 November 2013). "Francis Bacon triptych smashes art auction record". Telegraph Media Group . Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  14. Vogel, Carol (2 May 2012). "'The Scream' Is Auctioned for a Record $119.9 Million". The New York Times . Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  15. Vogel, Carol (15 May 2008). "Bacon Triptych Auctioned for Record $86 Million". The New York Times . Retrieved 13 November 2013.