Francis Bacon's first portrait of George Dyer could top $50 million

Craigie G

Craigie G

2017-02-24 16:21:17

Francis Bacon's first-ever portrait of his greatest muse George Dyer could be about to sell for more than $50 million at Christie's.

Bacon painted more than 40 portraits of Dyer during his life, beginning with this triptych painted in 1963 - just three months after their relationship began.

According to legend, Bacon met petty criminal Dyer during a failed attempt to burgle the artist's home, and the pair soon became lovers.

Bacon painted several portraits of Dyers during their turbulent relationship, which coincided with the most successful period of his creative career.

However, at the pinnacle of this success, a 1971 retrospective of Bacon's work at the Grand Palais in Paris, the troubled Dyer committed suicide in their hotel room.

Many of Bacon's portraits of Dyer were painted after his death, including a series of 'Black Triptychs' which mirrored his emotional turmoil at the loss of his lover.

(Image: Christie

(Image: Christie's)

"Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer is a masterful triptych, which was completed within the first three months of Bacon’s encounter with Dyer," said Loic Gouzer, Christie's Deputy Chairman of Post-War and Contemporary Art. "This powerful portrait exemplifies the dynamism and complex psychology that the artist is most revered for.

"George Dyer is to Bacon what Dora Maar was to Picasso. He is arguably the most important model of the second half of the 20th century, because Dyer’s persona as well and physical traits acted as a catalyst for Bacon’s pictorial breakthroughs. The Francis Bacon that we know today would not exist without the transformative encounter that he had with George Dyer."

The painting was originally owned by the celebrated author Roald Dahl, a close friend of Bacon who acquired several of his works in the mid-1960s.

Previously in 2014, another Bacon work from Dahl's collection - Study for Head of Lucian Freud, painted in 1967 – sold at Christie's for $19.6 million.

Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer is now expected to fetch $50 - $70 million when it hits the auction block in New York, as part of the Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale on May 17.

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