Gallery displays triptych clues

 The manipulated photograph of Lucian Freud seated on a bed, which was used by Francis Bacon in creating his auction-smashing triptych.

The Hugh Lane gallery in Dublin is to exhibit material relating to the auction-smashing triptych of Lucian Freud by Francis Bacon.

The material, relating to the triptych (three paintings in one), includes a photograph of Lucian Freud seated on a bed. This photograph, taken by John Deakin in the 1960s, had been manipulated by Bacon in advance of painting.

The photograph is deliberately torn, with the corner folded, so Freud’s left leg is obscured. The fold is fixed with paper clips, a practice of Bacon’s, and paint marks on the photograph indicate Bacon consulted the photograph during the painting process.

“Lucian Freud was a significant figure in Francis Bacon’s life during the 1950s and 60s, and he is the subject of some of Bacon’s most memorable paintings,” said Barbara Dawson, the Hugh Lane gallery director.

“We are very fortunate to have the archive of Francis Bacon in the Hugh Lane as it is a unique resource which relates directly to his artworks and adds an immense amount of information on Francis Bacon and his art.”

More than 60 images of Lucian Freud were discovered in Francis Bacon’s studio, which is now located in the Hugh Lane.

A display of images of Lucian Freud including photographs by John Deakin commissioned by Francis Bacon will go on exhibition in the Gallery on Nov 14.

* For more on the exhibition, go online at

Life of Bacon

Francis Bacon was born to British parents in a nursing home on Dublin’s Baggot St on Oct 28, 1909. His mother was the daughter of a wealthy Sheffield steel family, and his father a retired army captain. Intent on launching a career as a racehorse breeder and trainer, Bacon’s father moved his young family to Ireland in the early years of the 20th century.

Bacon spent his early childhood at Cannycourt House, near the Curragh in Kildare, and also stayed with his maternal grandmother near Abbeyleix. During the First World War, the family moved back to London as Bacon’s father returned to work at the War Office. After the war, the family returned to an Ireland that had changed vastly, particularly for the Protestant ‘gentry’. Throughout the War of Independence and Civil War, the family moved between various residences in Kildare and Laois.

Bacon received no formal schooling in Ireland, apart from a tutor employed by the family. His only brush with conventional education took the form of an 18-month stint as a boarder at Dean Close School, Cheltenham, which the artist left before a threatened expulsion was enforced. Bacon left the family home at the age of 16. According to the artist, his father ejected him from the household when he was discovered trying on his mother’s underwear.

Bacon spent some time in London before travelling to Berlin and Paris. It was during these years that he first became involved with the arts. Bacon’s exposure to Sergei Eisentein’s famous film, Battleship Potemkin, was to have a lasting effect on him

During his lifetime, the artist spoke about “leaving my mark”, and was acutely aware of how fickle the art world can be. “Some artists leave remarkable things which, 100 years later, don’t work at all. I have left my mark; my work is hung in museums, but maybe one day the Tate Gallery, or the other museums, will banish me to the cellar... you never know,” he said.

Bacon died on Apr 18, 1992.


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