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Image of Francis Bacon, One of Ireland's Top Artists, to Sell in First Irish Art Sale at Bonhams
A watercolour, titled Image of Francis Bacon No 18, it is estimated to sell for £60,000 to £80,000. Photo: Bonhams.
LONDON.- An evocative portrait of Francis Bacon, one of Britain’s leading 20th century artists, painted by one of his friends, Louis Le Brocquy, Ireland’s foremost living artist, is for sale at Bonhams inaugural Irish Art Sale in London on 9th Feb 2011.

The picture is one of the most significant lots to feature in the auction. A watercolour, titled Image of Francis Bacon No 18, it is estimated to sell for £60,000 to £80,000. Although he painted Bacon several times, trying to capture “the Baconness of Bacon”, this example is more representational than the other semi-abstract pieces.

Penny Day, Head of Irish Art at Bonhams, says: “It is rare to find an image that combines the names and reputations of two giants of British and Irish art, in this instance as artist and sitter”.

Bonhams have a distinguished track record in selling Irish Art over the last 13 years, but 2011 will see a stand-alone dedicated Irish Sale in New Bond Street, that will be marketed internationally through Bonhams offices on four continents.

Speaking about his art Louis Le Brocquy says: “Contrary to a generally held view, I think that painting is not in any direct sense a means of communication or a means of self-expression. When you are painting you are trying to discover, to uncover, to reveal. I sometimes think of the activity of painting as a kind of archaeology – an archaeology of the spirit.”

Francis Bacon (1909 –1992) was an Anglo-Irish figurative painter known for his bold, austere, graphic and emotionally raw imagery. Bacon's painterly but abstract figures typically appear isolated in glass or steel geometrical cages set against flat, nondescript backgrounds. He began painting during his early 20s and worked only sporadically until his mid 30s. Before this time he earned his living as an interior decorator and designer of furniture and rugs.

Later, he admitted that his career was delayed because he had spent too long looking for a subject that would sustain his interest. His breakthrough came with the 1944 triptych Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, and it was this work and his heads and figures of the late 1940s through to the early 1960s that sealed his reputation as a notably bleak, world famous, chronicler of the human condition.

Since his death, Bacon's reputation has steadily grown. While Margaret Thatcher famously described him as "that man who paints those dreadful pictures", he was the subject of two major Tate retrospectives during his lifetime and received a third in 2008.

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