Christie’s will donate Francis Bacon’s powerful painting ‘Triptych 1986-7’

Triptych 1986-7 by Francis Bacon will be one of the main highlights of the series of sales from Christie’s Shanghai to London.

by Francis Bacon Triptych 1986-7 (estimate: £35,000,000-55,000,000) will be auctioned for the first time in Christie’s 20th / 21st Century: London Evening Sale, a key auction as part of the 20/21 Shanghai to London series of sales, taking place on March 1, 2022.

An extraordinary meditation on passing time and a rhapsody on the loneliness of the human condition, Triptych 1986-7 is placed among Bacons last large paintings. Through three monumental canvases, his rarest and most famous format, he mixes images from the annals of 20th century history with a poignant and retrospective view of his own life and art.

Originally unveiled in New York in 1987 at Marlborough Gallery, Christie’s will exhibit the work at Rockefeller Center from February 10-15, 2022.

The adapted figure in the left panel is based on a press clipping by the US President Woodrow Wilsonstepping forward as he left the treaty of Versailles negotiations in 1919; the right panel was inspired by a photograph of by Leon Trotsky study carried out after his assassination in 1940.

In the center is seated a figure resembling Bacons then-partner John Edwardsher pose reminiscent of that of the artist’s beloved Georges Dyer in the August 1972 haunting Triptych eulogy (Tate, London). Widely exhibited throughout its life, Triptych 1986-7 was recently seen in the Center Georges Pompidou’s acclaimed exhibition “Bacon in All Letters” (2019-20).

Catherine Arnoldresponsible for post-war and contemporary art, Christie’s Europe: “Francis Bacon is unquestionably one of the greatest painters of the 20th century. He captured all that it is to be human, unafraid to elevate thrilled love or highlight the deep anguish of grief. His ability to translate all of our emotions is perfectly summed up in this masterpiece, Triptych 1986-7.

The rare large-scale triptych format offered Bacon the opportunity to trace his life through the historical events of the 20th century, infusing the canvases with his lived experiences, triumphs and traumas. Christie’s is delighted to feature the painting as one of the highlights of our London Evening Sale.

Created at the same time as Lucian Freud’s magnificent Girl with Closed Eyes, the two paintings will offer collectors the opportunity to acquire works that have been held in separate private collections. Both paintings have been widely exhibited, a testament to their stature in the works of Bacon and Freud respectively. The quality and power of these masterpieces are sure to please our global collector base.

Giovanna BertazzoniVice-President, 20th / 21st Century Department, Christie’s“It is an honor for Christie’s to present the superb Triptych 1986-7 by Francis Bacon in our innovative sales platform “Shanghai to London”.

Our international focus on 20th and 21st century masterpieces brings together stunning paintings by Francois Marcone of the fathers of modernism, and Picasso, whose surrealist portrait, The Open Window, depicts the artist with his great muse Marie Theresewhile at the other end of the century we see Bacon alongside his great friend and rival Lucian Freud.

Tracing the trajectory and dynamism of over 100 years of artistic practice, our 20th/21st century auctions offer our clients a uniquely cohesive platform, from London to Asia, and from Europe to the United States. States, where the giants of art history are presented side by side. next to.”

The year following its creation, Triptych 1986-7 was one of 22 paintings exhibited at the Central House of Artists Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow: the first exhibition of a well-known Western artist to take place in Soviet Russia. Many viewers did not recognize Trotsky’s photograph as a source, but for those who did, the painting’s presence heralded a sea change in the country’s political attitudes toward art: the Iron Curtain, notably, would fall the following year.

The exhibition’s British curator, James Birch, recently documented his experience in a publication titled Bacon in Moscow (2022, Profile Books Ltd). Following its inclusion in major exhibitions at the Museo d’Arte Moderna in Lugano in 1993 and the Center Georges Pompidou in 1996, the work made its American institutional debut in the renowned traveling retrospective at the Yale Center for British Art in 1999.

As he traveled the country from East to West to the South, his nod to the history of the United States, itself rare in Bacon’s work, would certainly have resonated with the public. American: Woodrow Wilson emerges from the darkness, his face pale and the weight of the world on his back. shoulders.

Triptych 1986-7 is one of Bacon’s few large-scale triptychs to remain in private hands. Between 1962 and 1991, the artist produced just 28 such works measuring 78 by 58 inches, nearly half of which are in museums around the world.

Recalling the great altarpieces of Grünewald and Cimabue, the seminal Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (Tate, London) heralded Bacon’s arrival as an artist in 1944. He would go on to extend the genre to near-cinematic proportions, coming full circle with a second blood-red version of the 1944 triptych, also housed at the Tate, shortly after creating Triptych 1986-7.

Compositionally, Triptych 1986-7’s closest cousin remains the 1972 “Black Triptych” produced in memory of Dyer, where dark web-like voids and haunting liquefied shadows frame the human form. These devices would also play an important role in Three Portraits – Posthumous Portrait of George Dyer; Self-Portrait; Portrait of Lucian Freud (1973) and Triptych March 1974 (Fondación Juan March, Madrid), as well as the artist’s final Triptych from 1991 (Museum of Modern Art, New York).

Woodrow Wilson’s depiction of shoes shares much in common with Bacon’s Study for a Self-Portrait – Triptych (1985-86), while his fusion of public and private histories could be seen in connection with the famous Triptych (1976) .
In 1987, Bacon was enjoying the extraordinary success of his 1985 Tate retrospective, of which director Sir Alan Bowness had named him the “greatest living painter”.

Conversely, he was still haunted by Dyer’s sudden death and had spent much of the previous decade in a pictorial confrontation with his own mortality. Two self-portraits from this period depict Bacon with a watch. In one, his ticking hand seems to merge organically with his own face.

By bringing together elements from all periods of his practice, the work situates this temporal framework in the context of a life lived in painting. Trotsky’s desk, in another reading, might as well be an easel; his sheet, stained with blood and letters, could be a barely begun canvas or a half-begun novel. Art and life slip and unravel through the three panels of the work, each illuminated like a beacon against the void.

Key words:
ART, AUCTION, Christies, Francis Bacon, Franz Marc, George Dyer, Giovanna Bertazzoni, John Edwards, Katharine Arnold, Leon Trotsky, London, Lucian Freud, Marie-Thérèse, Marlborough Gallery, Sale, Shanghai, UK, Woodrow Wilson


Christie’s, the world’s leading art company, achieved auction sales in the first half of 2019 that totaled £2.2bn/$2.8bn. Christie’s is a name and a place that speaks of extraordinary craftsmanship, unparalleled service and international expertise. Christie’s offers approximately 350 auctions per year in more than 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewelry, photography, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie’s also has a long and successful history of private sales for clients across all categories, with a focus on post-war and contemporary, impressionist and modern, old masters and jewellery.

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