Francis Bacon’s ‘Lucian Freud’ triptych headlines Christie’s auction
Regarded as a landmark work by the British artist, the triptych will be offered in New York on November 12
The triptych, painted in 1969, is regarded as one of Bacon’s finest works and it captures the close relationship between the two notable artists. It will be sold as part of the company’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale in New York, with experts estimating a price in excess of $85 million.
Bacon met Lucian Freud in 1945, and began what is described as “one of the greatest artistic friendships and rivalries of the twentieth century”. The two men inspired and influenced each other’s work, in a dialog which recalled the past relationships of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse or Titian and Tintoretto.
Bacon and Freud painted each other several times, but some of the works have been lost over time. A 1952 Freud portrait of Bacon was stolen whilst on display in Berlin, and a further Bacon triptych painted in 1966 has not been seen since 1992.
The three panels of the work offered at Christie’s were themselves separated for around 15 years, after being initially exhibited at the Galleria Galatea in 1970. After being split and sold into different collections, the panels were reunited at a Bacon retrospective at the Yale Centre for British Art in 1999 and have remained together ever since.
“We are honored to announce the sale of an undeniable icon of twentieth century art,” said Francis Outred, head of Post-War and Contemporary Art for Christie’s Europe.
“A conversation between two masters of 20th century figurative painting, Francis Bacon’s triptych, ‘Three Studies of Lucian Freud’, executed in 1969 is a true masterpiece that marks Bacon and Freud’s relationship, paying tribute to the creative and emotional kinship between the two artists.”
“The juxtaposition of radiant sunshine yellow contrasting with the brutal physicality and immediacy of the brushstrokes in this celebrated life-size triptych is what makes Bacon’s art so remarkable.”
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