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Major Francis Bacon portrait of the love of his life sells for landmark £26.7 million
Major Francis Bacon triptych of George Dyer, the love of his life, sells for a landmark £26.7 million - New record for a small-scale triptych by the artist. Photo: Sotheby's.
LONDON.- Tonight in Sotheby's London salesroom, the market's unabated appetite for great works of Contemporary art was again manifest. A rare Francis Bacon triptych of George Dyer attracted bids from four collectors around the world, far surpassing its estimate and selling to a telephone bidder for a landmark price of £26,682,500 ($45,400,274). The sum paid sets a new benchmark for a small-scale triptych by the artist, eclipsing the previous record of £23 million* for a work in this format. Underbidding from Patti Wong, Sotheby’s Chairman in Asia, helped drive the price to well over £20 million.

Depicting the man who was the love of Bacon’s life at the moment when they were most deeply involved, Three Studies for Portrait of George Dyer (on light ground) is an exceptionally rare lifetime depiction of Dyer and full of the painterly exuberance that marks out Bacon as one of the greatest painters of the 20th century. An outstanding example of Bacon at the height of his powers, this museum-quality work is also of critical importance because it is, in all likelihood, the first painting for which Bacon used the legendary photographs by his friend John Deakin as source material for a painting of George Dyer. This exceptional work had only rarely been seen in public, having remained in the same collection since 1970. It appeared at auction tonight for the first time ever with an estimate of £15-20 million - an estimate that was quickly left behind.



A new record was also set for the British artist Peter Doig this evening when his Canadian landscape Country-rock (wing-mirror), sold for a landmark £8,482,500 ($14,432,974).

Cheyenne Westphal, Co-Global Head of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s, said: “For lovers of Doig, this work enjoys a supreme status. We were thrilled to see it set a new benchmark price for the artist this evening, affirming yet again the market’s huge appreciation for his work.”

Having remained in the same collection since 1999, the year it was painted, Country-rock (wing-mirror) belongs to a series of three works which together rank among the most celebrated and desirable in the artist’s oeuvre. Painted in London at a key turning-point in the artist’s career, the work depicts a much-loved landmark near Toronto: the rainbow tunnel, which mysteriously first appeared above an underpass alongside the city’s Don Valley Parkway in 1972 when Doig was growing up in Canada. In this particular painting, the tunnel is seen from the passenger seat of a car, and the title is the soundtrack to the journey. Click here for full pre-sale release on the painting.

Sotheby's evening sale is still underway, with Andy Warhol's Dollar Sign encapsulating the relationship between art and money, both then and now. Warhol once said, 'I like money on the wall. Say you were going to buy a $200,000 painting, I think you should take that money, tie it up, and hang it on the wall. Then, when someone visited you, the first thing they would see is the money on the wall."

But following the result for his work this evening, that visitor would see not $200,000, but £4,002,500 ($6,810,254) – the price paid by a collector bidding on the telephone tonight.

*The previous record for a small scale triptych by Francis Bacon was held by his Portrait of Lucian Freud (studies) (in 3 parts) from 1964 which sold at Sotheby’s London in 2011 for £23 million ($37.1 million)

Today's News

July 1, 2014

Major Francis Bacon portrait of the love of his life sells for landmark £26.7 million

Summer auctions at Koller Zurich: 5.3CHF million paid for a painting by Paul Signac

Exhibition of paintings by Jean Dubuffet and Miquel Barceló opens at Acquavella Galleries

Indianapolis Museum of Art acquires monumental work by Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein

Getty Museum presents drawings from the greatest artists of 18th-century France in Rococo to Revolution

Up for bid at Hake's: Super-rare Disney toys from estate of author/illustrator Maurice Sendak

The Museum of Modern Art names Senior Museum Archivist Michelle Elligott Chief of Archives

Fendi unveils suspended walkway to give tourists a whole new vantage point over Rome's Trevi fountain

Living Collections Catalogue: Walker Art Center launches innovative Online Collections Catalogue

Cairo Under Wraps: Exhibition of early Islamic textiles features nearly 80 rare and delicate fabrics

Early nineteenth century painted Buffalo hide robe now on display at the Reading Public Museum

Exhibition spotlights the creative communities that are flourishing throughout New York City

Exhibition of Protographs by contemporary artist Oscar Muñoz on view at Jeu de Paume

Rare archive of 13th century Knights Templar charters and deeds goes under the hammer

Exhibition of photographs at the DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery explore war and entertainment

Group Ink: A group exhibition of graffiti and street art opens at gallery nine5

First museum exhibition of Roberto Fabelo's work in the U.S. opens at the Museum of Latin American Art

Exhibition at Mead Carney features a selection of New York based artist Shelter Serra's works

Group exhibition at South London Gallery brings together new commissions and existing works

Temporary, large-scale, site-specific installation by artist duo Walter Hugo & Zoniel on view in Liverpool

YELL-O: A group exhibition opens at C24 Gallery

Bruno David Gallery exhibits large sculpture from the M-velope series by Michael Jantzen

Carlos Loarca's colorful images on view at Avenue 9 Gallery

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1.- New light shines on Sandro Botticelli masterpieces at Florence's Uffizi Gallery

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3.- Degas retrospective debuts in the U.S. at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

4.- Special exhibition features large-scale photography by Richard Mosse & Edward Burtynsky

5.- Nobel panel gives up knockin' on Dylan's door

6.- An unprecedented, international-loan exhibition of works by Claude Monet is at the Kimbell Art Museum this fall

7.- Exhibition at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek explores Rousseau's landscapes

8.- Yoko Ono unveils her first permanent US art installation

9.- ArtReview's annual Power 100 names Hans Ulrich Obrist as the artworld's most powerful figure

10.- British artist David Hockney makes a splash at Frankfurt fair with 2,000-euro book

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