Thursday 14 December 2017

Bacon painting sizzles at auction to fetch €20m

Kevin Keane

A PAINTING by Irish artist Francis Bacon has become the second most expensive contemporary artwork ever sold by Christies in London, after it was bought for £17.9m (€20m) last night.

'Study for a Portrait' (1953) easily exceeded its guide price of £11m (€12.2m) as an anonymous telephone bidder paid the £17.9m. The painting was once owned by fellow Irish artist Louis Le Brocquy and features an unknown figure painted in the resemblance of Velazquez's 'Portrait of Philip IV of Spain'.

The seller, Swiss entrepreneur and wine producer Donald M Hess', acquired the painting in 1984.

Last night's sale means works by Dublin-born Bacon occupy the number one and two most expensive contemporary paintings sold by the London auction house.

In 2008, Bacon's 'Triptych' was sold for £26.3m (€29.3m).

Another Bacon 'Tryptich' painting (1976) was sold to Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich for $86.3m (€60m) in New York three years ago.


Francis Bacon was born at 63 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin, in 1909 to English parents and spent much of his childhood in Co Kildare before leaving home at the age of 16 following a disagreement with his father.

He eventually settled in London where he produced his most famous works. Bacon is regarded as a bleak chronicler of the human condition and his paintings are often shocking and disturbing.

Six years after his death in 1992, Bacon's entire London studio was moved to Dublin's Hugh Lane Gallery.

A team of archaeologists mapped the space, noting the positions of all objects, before the chaotic room, complete with original door, walls, floors and ceiling was dismantled and reconstructed in Dublin.

More than 7,000 items found in the studio were replaced exactly as they lay when Bacon last left it.

Last night's auction also saw the sale of Andy Warhol's famous portrait of Chairman Mao (1973) for a price of $7.8m (€5m).

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News