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Freud’s Bacon

from Bloomberg

Freud’s Bacon Portrait Recalls Bohemian Soho: Martin Gayford 

Preview by Martin Gayford


Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) — Great British artists, it seems, are like buses. None comes along for ages, then two arrive together.

In the early 19th century there were Constable and Turner, then — with the arguable exception of Sickert — no painter of truly international stature until Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon appeared in the 1940s.

On Oct. 19, one of only two painted portraits of Bacon by Freud will go under the hammer at Christie’s International in London, with an estimate range of 5 million pounds ($8.6 million) to 7 million pounds. The other picture of Bacon by Freud was stolen from a Berlin show 20 years ago and has never been recovered. Bacon also painted Freud on numerous occasions, but for reasons that can only be guessed at never with such intensity.

In the past few years those two have come to bestride the contemporary art world like twin colossi. This year, Freud took the title of the world’s most expensive living artist at auction, with the sale of “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” (1995) for $33.6 million at Christie’s in New York on May 13.

A mere 24 hours later Bacon, who died in 1992, achieved the title of the most expensive contemporary artist when “Triptych” (1976) sold for $86.3 million at Sotheby’s in New York.

Bacon, born in 1909, was 13 years Freud’s senior, but was only just emerging as a major talent when Freud first encountered him. They met through a common friend, Graham Sutherland.

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Posted on October 17, 2008 by Editor

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