Bacon, Francis (1909–1992) By Barber, Fionna
British painter Francis Bacon was one of the most important figures of international post-war modernism. During the 1940s and 1950s, he developed a characteristic painting format used throughout his career, generally featuring an isolated figure within an armature or stage-like setting. Bacon’s work is renowned for its raw emotional appeal, and also its ability to convey an existential sense of the human condition. Bacon’s painting developed sporadically until Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (1944) attracted considerable critical attention. During the 1950s, a series of variations on Diego Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X (c. 1650) supported the development of Bacon’s international reputation, consolidated by a major retrospective at the Tate in 1962. In 1970, however, on the eve of his major retrospective exhibition at Grand Palais, Paris, his former lover George Dyer died of an overdose, a tragedy Bacon later commemorated in a group of triptychs. After this event he withdrew considerably from Soho Bohemia, in which he had played such a leading role during the previous two decades.