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Francis Bacon Exhibition Review at Museum del Prado, Madrid

Exhibition running from Feb 03 2009 until Apr 19 2009

This February, the Museo del Prado hosts a major exhibition on Francis Bacon (1909-1992). Intended to coincide with the centenary of the artist’s and is a unique and heartfelt homage to Bacon, who regularly visited the Prado in the last years of his life and who died in Madrid on 28 April 1992.

The exhibition features a selection of 78 paintings, including unique works and fifteen of his most important triptychs, in addition to an important body of documentary material from his studio that reveals and analyses the sources of his compositions and his most fundamental ideas. 

The Museo del Prado’s involvement in this project indicates its desire to pay homage to one of the great creative figures of the 20th century, whose starting-point was closely related to some of the great Spanish classical masters such as Velázquez and Goya, as well as Picasso. According to Bacon, it was Picasso’s work that first prompted him to take the definitive decision to become an artist. As an example of this relationship, the exhibition will include the canvases inspired by Velázquez’s portrait of Pope Innocent X and which, according to Bacon, marked his first significant step forward in painting. In addition to these variations, the other outstandingly important works to be displayed include the Crucifixion triptychs, Portrait of Isabel Rawsthorne in Soho, the triptychs in homage to George Dyer, the triptych inspired by a poem by T.S. Eliot, and Triptych of 1991 with the artist’s self-portrait.  

The exhibition opens with the artist’s early years at the start of his career around 1946-1949 and ends with the last phase of his life in 1991. It is organised into various sections that aim to present his obsessive interests over succeeding periods and to offer a precise and dispassionate vision of his wide-ranging artistic interests. Under the headings of Animal Nature, Anxieties, Crucifixion, Crisis, Portrait, and Epic, these sections bring together some of Bacon’s most profound and shocking compositions. A number of his themes, such as the passing of time, death and the fragility of human nature in its corporal aspect, violence, sex, friendship and isolation are to be found in this exhibition, which also reveals the outstanding quality and technical mastery of the work of Francis Bacon, who was undoubtedly one of the great painters of western art.

OPENING HOURS: Tue - Sun: 09.00 - 20.00

Image Credits:

Image 1: Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X Oil on canvas, 153 x 118 cm 1953 Des Moines, Nathan Emory Coffin Collection of the Des Moines Arts Center, purchased with funds from the Coffin Fine Arts Trust

Slide Show:

Triptych – In Memory of George Dyer Oil on canvas, 198 x 147.5 cm 1971 Riehen/Basel, Fondation Beyeler 

Triptych Inspired by T. S. Eliot’s Poem “Sweeney Agonistes” Oil on canvas, 198 x 147.5 cm 1967 New York, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Gift of the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Foundation 1972

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion Oil on board, 94 x 73.7 cm c. 1944 London, Tate, presented by Eric Hall 1953 


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