Francis Bacon

    Attributes

    • Male

    Galleries

    About the artist

    1909: Born in Dublin
    1992: Died in Madrid

    Francis Bacon was born in a nursing home at 63 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin on the 28th October 1909. He was the second of five children born to English parents who had recently settled in Ireland but who had no Irish blood ties. His father, Anthony Edward ‘Eddy’ Mortimer Bacon was a retired Army captain now determined on a career as a breeder and trainer of horses. His decision to do so in Ireland was principally motivated by reasons of cost, though he had some knowledge of the land from his hunting days. According to Francis, it was a passion he pursued with a singular lack of success. His mother, Christina Winifred Loxley Bacon, née Firth, came from a Sheffield family who had established their fortune in steel. Her family did not have the ancestral pedigree of the Bacons (who claimed to be collateral descendents of the Elizabethan philosopher and statesman, Francis Bacon) but she was considerably more wealthy than her husband.
    Berlin was Bacon’s first overwhelming cultural experience. It provided him neither with a discernible direction nor ambition in life. Rather, he savored its opulence, experienced at first hand in the Hotel Adlon, and its squalor, felt in the poverty of the surrounding streets. The erotic life of the city was startlingly uninhibited and artistically it thrived with new developments in architecture, painting and cinema. It may have been in Berlin that Bacon first saw Battleship Potemkin (1925) by the Soviet filmmaker, Sergei Eisentein. Its full impact on the young man would not surface for several decades.
    Bacon, however, had not given up on desire. In his last years and in declining health (a cancerous kidney was removed in 1989), he enjoyed a passionate relationship with a cultivated young Spaniard, whom he had met sometime in the mid-1980s. Against his doctor’s advice Bacon made a trip to Madrid in April 1992. Within days of arrival he fell critically ill and was taken to a medical clinic. On the 28th of April, he suffered a heart attack and died in the presence of two nuns from the Servants of Mary. Bacon was trenchant in his atheism but there is no evidence that he resisted the care of the religious; several times before he had been treated by sisters at the same clinic. Bacon’s remains were cremated in Spain and, as he requested, there was no service. His ashes were transported to England where they were scattered in a private ceremony. Bacon named John Edwards as the sole heir to his estate.

    In the Reece Mews studio, a final portrait stood incomplete on a tall easel. It had been there since the previous November where it was observed by his only surviving sister, Ianthe. The identity of its subject, the assertive profile caught half way between a self-portrait and a portrait of George Dyer, has so far defied resolution.