Lost Francis Bacon masterpiece to sell after being hidden for 50 years



2017-09-06 08:59:01

A Francis Bacon masterpiece lost for more than 50 years is finally heading for the auction block.

'Head with Raised Arm' was painted in 1955 and last exhibited in Turin in 1962. The following year it was acquired by a private collector, and it has remained hidden from public view ever since.

In the most recent version of Bacon's catalogue raisonné, published in 2016, its whereabouts were listed as "unknown", and its rediscovery has been described as a "landmark moment".

It will now be offered for sale at Christie's in London, where it is expected to sell for £7 - £10 million ($9.13 - $13.04 million).

The painting depicts Pope Pius XII, who held the position during WWII and was accused of turning a blind eye to Nazi atrocities.

Bacon painted numerous portraits of Pius XII, although just nine are known to remain, with four held in museum collections and a fifth on permanent loan.

According to renowned art historian Michael Peppiatt, "Bacon’s Popes are not only the centrepiece of all his paintings in the 1950s but a centrepiece of the whole of 20th-century art."

"Bacon’s Head with Raised Arm poses the question that would haunt Bacon for the duration of his career: how to paint the human figure in the age of photography," said Francis Outred, Chairman and Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art EMERI.

"Pius was the only living Pope that Bacon would ever look to capture and by hinting at the transience of a figure immortalized through the camera lens, Bacon lifts the veil on his humanity."

The painting will now be exhibited at Christie's in New York and Hong Kong, before heading to London for the Post War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction on October 6.

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