Francis Bacon's dual self portrait may sell for £18 million

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2015-06-26 11:26:53

The highly anticipated Sotheby's Contemporary Art sale in London next month will offer a rare dual self portrait by Francis Bacon.

Dating from 1977, Two Studies for Self-Portrait is one of just three self-portraits by the artist in the format. It was painted during a turbulent time for the artist; his lover George Dyer had committed suicide in 1971, and both his mother and several of his close friends had passed away leaving Bacon in emotional turmoil.

"People have been dying around me like flies and I've had nobody else to paint but myself… I loathe my own face," he said in 1975. "One of the nicest things that Cocteau said was ‘Each day in the mirror I watch death at work.’ This is what one does to oneself.”

The contorted pair of self-portraits last sold at Sotheby's in 1993 for £353,500, but recent prices for Bacon's work suggest it could sell for fifty times that amount. In the past decade self-portraits from 1978 and 1969 have also sold at Sotheby's for £21.6 million and $33.1 million respectively.

“He was never more brilliant, more incisive or more ferocious when it came to depicting himself," In wrote renowned art historian Michael Peppiatt in 2009. "In this he helped revive a genre, and Bacon’s Self-Portraits can now be seen as among the most pictorially inventive and psychologically revealing portraits of the Twentieth Century."

"Of all the subjects he depicted, it is the self-portraits - painted with an almost obsessive intensity - that bring us closest to the artist," said Oliver Barker, Sotheby’s Deputy Chairman, Europe. "It's this extraordinary intimacy and power, together with their rarity, that make Bacon's self-portraits so irresistible to collectors."

Two Studies for Self-Portrait is estimated to fetch £13-£18 million, and will cross the block in London on February 10.

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