Christie’s is pleased to announce that Study for a Portrait, 1953, a seminal work by Francis Bacon (1909-1992) will be a leading highlight of Christie’s Post War and Contemporary Art Evening auction in London on 28 June 2011.
An arresting and dark study in the degradation of power in Post War existentialist Europe, Study for a Portrait (Estimate on Request) has a rich artistic heritage, having previously been owned by two of Francis Bacon’s contemporaries: Rodrigo Moynihan, a pioneer of abstract painting in the 1930’s and Louis Le Brocquy, one of Ireland’s most important painters of the 20th century and a great friend of Francis Bacon. Study for a Portrait, 1953, was the last painting that Francis Bacon realised in his studio at the Royal College of Art rented from Rodrigo Moynihan from 1951 to 1953, and it was there that he created some of his greatest landmark works including his definitive series of Popes and his first portrait triptych. Never sold at auction, it has been in private hands since and was acquired by the present owner in 1984.
Study for a Portrait, 1953 completes an outstanding and unprecedented group of iconic works from the school of London to be offered in one sale, including Woman Smiling, 1958-1959 by Lucian Freud, described by Robert Hughes as the turning point in the artist’s career, 5 rare and early works on paper by the artist from the collection of Kay Saatchi and a portrait of Leon Kossoff, 1953 by Frank Auerbach.
Measuring 198 x 137.5 cm, a work of this magnitude from this period has not come to market for several years. It is also larger than all of the artist’s Pope studies.