Triptych, 1976 is a triptych - a work of art which is divided into three sections which are usually hinged and folded – completed in 1977 by artist Francis Bacon. The centre panel shows a headless human figure encircled by vultures. The side panels depict two portraits of disfigured human faces. The painting was the centrepiece of arguably, the most important show of new work by Bacon, at the Galerie Claud Bernard, Paris in 1977.
It is thought that the inspiration for this work comes from ancient Greek mythology with the main figure representing Prometheus who was punished by Zues for stealing fire from the Gods by having his liver perpetually devoured by an eagle.
Other, more current, interpretations hold that Bacon was reffering to the Aeschylus trilogy ‘Oresteia’ whereby Orestes commits matricide to avenge the death of his father at the hands of his mother. Orestes is then plagued by the three Furies, the manifestation of guilt.
The painting was the centrepiece of arguably, the most important show of new work by Bacon, at the Galerie Claud Bernard, Paris in 1977. Shortly after that the painting was bought by an annonymous private owner and has featured in major surveys of Bacon’s work including the Tate Gallery in 1985 and the Pompidou Centre, Paris in 1996.
In December, 2010-12-09 Triptych, 1976 sold for $86.3 million at a Sotheby’s auction, beating the previous high price for a Bacon work which was £52.7 million paid for Study For Innocent X.
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