Francis Bacon
English, 1909-1992

Study for Portrait, IV, 1953
Oil on canvas
Gift of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd (Blanchette Hooker, class of 1931)
Period: 20th c
Classification: Painting
Dimensions: Framed: 67 5/8 x 53 1/2 x 2 5/8 in. (171.77 x 135.89 x 6.67 cm) Unframed: 60 x 45 3/4 in. (152.4 x 116.21 cm)
Signatures, Inscriptions and Markings v
Not signed
Published References v
Mundy, James, The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center: Vassar College The History and Collection (New York: Prestel Publishing, 2007), p. 131, p. 130 repr. "Study for Portrait I-VIII: The Series." ArtStories ^ Mia. Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Spring 2015. Web. repr.
Exhibition History v
La Jolla, California, Musuem of Contemporary Art San Diego, "Francis Bacon: The Papal Portraits of 1953," January 17-March 28, 1999. New Haven, Connecticut, Yale Center for British Art, "Great British Paintings from American Collections: Holbein to Hockney," September 27-December 30, 2001. Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY SECOND SIGHT: Originality, Duplicity, and the Object January 14-April 10, 2005 New York, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, "Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective" May 18- August 16 2009 Tokyo, Japan, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, "Francis Bacon" February 26 - May 26, 2013. Toyota, Japan, Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, "Francis Bacon" June 4 - September 1, 2013.
Description v
The paintings of Francis Bacon deal almost exclusively with the human figure, often subject to a tortured or grotesque transformation. This par- ticular work is one of a series of eight paintings executed in 1953, most of which were exhibited together shortly thereafter at the Durlacher Brothers Gallery in New York, Bacon’s first exhibition outside England. The Vassar painting was purchased directly from the exhibition by Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller and given to the college less than two years later during her tenure as a college trustee. They are based — as are a number of other works from the 1950s — on Diego Velásquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X of 1650. Bacon admitted to being “haunted and obsessed by the image ... by its perfec- tion.” Nonetheless, in spite of making many trips to Rome, he never ven- tured to the Doria Pamphili Gallery to see the object of his obsession. At the end of his life, he claimed that he hated these paintings and regretted very much painting them because the Velásquez was perfect already and there was, after all, really nothing he could do further.
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