Christie’s sale sees Tony O’Malley bring home Francis Bacon

Des O’Sullivan reports on a split canvas holding a nude by Francis Bacon. 

Christie’s sale sees Tony O’Malley bring home Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon added considerable value to Tony O’Malley’s art at Christie’s in London last week.

When a lost unfinished nude by Bacon surfaced on the back of two works by O’Malley, Christie’s offered it as one lot with an estimate of £20,000-30,000 (€25,330-€37,990).

Given that Bacon is up there with the most expensive artists in the world, this turned out to be extremely conservative.

The lot sold for a whopping £434,000. It came about because Bacon had left the unfinished canvas at St Ives in the late 1950s following an argument with his partner.

O’Malley subsequently divided it in two and went on to paint two scenes on the other side, Currach, Clare Island, and Evening Landscape, Tehidy Hospital.

The paintings went their separate ways, to the collections of the O’Malley and the Fallon families.

A rare optimistic self portrait by Bacon comes up at Sotheby’s in New York on May 11. Two Studies for a Self Portrait is a positive work painted by an elated Bacon in 1970 on the cusp of his career-defining retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris in 1971.

He was only the second living artist, after Picasso, to be afforded this honour. At the time Bacon was in the throes of a failing relationship with George Dyer.

Dyer’s suicide a year later haunted Bacon and shaped his art for decades to come. This work is estimated at $22-30m (€19.6-€26.7m).

More in this section