Friday 25 July 2014

Rare Francis Bacon triptych could fetch €24m at auction

Kirsty Blake Knox

Published 03/06/2014|02:30

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Francis Bacon's triptych 'Three Studies for Portrait of George Dyer' is expected to fetch up to €24m when it goes under the hammer this month.
Black and white photograph of Francis Bacon and George Dyer on the Orient Express, 1965
Photo: John Deakin
Black and white photograph of Francis Bacon and George Dyer on the Orient Express, 1965 Photo: John Deakin

A rare triptych of Irish-born Francis Bacon's muse and lover George Dyer is expected to fetch up to €24m under the hammer this summer.

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The triptych entitled 'Three Studies for portrait of George Dyer', is expected to attract international attention when it is offered up as part of Sotheby's evening sale of contemporary art in London.

The current record for a small-scale triptych by Bacon is €28m for a 1964 portrait of Lucien Fraud.

Dyer and Bacon became romantically involved after Bacon caught the East End petty criminal breaking into his South Kensington mews in the middle of the night.

The two fell in love instantly and became involved in a volatile relationship. Dyer battled with paranoia and addiction and tragically died from an overdose in Paris in 1971 – just hours before the opening of a major retrospective of Bacon's work at the Grand Palais.

The portraits of Dyer are extremely important for several reasons. The three pieces have rarely been seen in public and it is the only triptych of Dyer ever to be auctioned.

It is also, in all likelihood, the first time Bacon used photographs by his friend John Deakin as source material for an artwork; a technique he would use heavily in the future.

Oliver Barker, Sotheby's senior international specialist in contemporary art, says the importance of the paintings cannot be underestimated. They are expected to fetch in the range of €18m to €24m in the auction on June 30.

"Painted less than a year after their first encounter, 'Three Studies for Portrait of George Dyer' marks both the height of Bacon's affair with Dyer and the zenith of his achievement in portraiture," said Mr Barker.

Some 129 photographs of Dyer were found in the studio of Bacon after his death. Bacon's studio was donated to the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin where it was reconstructed.

Irish Independent

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