The Trustees of Tate have acquired an archive collection from the studio of Francis Bacon (1909–92), one of the most important painters of the twentieth century, thanks to the generous gift of Barry Joule, a friend of the artist.
The Barry Joule Collection of Francis Bacon-related material from 7 Reece Mews comprises over 1,200 items including photographic material and documents, as yet unstudied. Joule, a Canadian, became Bacon’s neighbour and close friend in 1978.
Parts of the material were shown, as attributed to Francis Bacon, at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin in 2000 and at the Barbican Centre in London in 2001. Tate will undertake to study, photograph and catalogue the collection over the next three years, before displaying these items and making them available for loan.
Tate hopes the acquisition and further study of this material will enable scholars to resolve remaining issues about Bacon’s working practice. The material will be available online, so that it may be compared with material from the Bacon studio, now at the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin. In addition, Barry Joule has kept a small number of items, which he will bequeath to Tate at a later date.
Francis Bacon was born in Dublin in 1909 and grew up in County Kildare. He left Ireland for England in 1926 and settled in London in about 1928. Although he had no formal art training, he began to paint around 1930, inspired by a Picasso exhibition he had visited. He had little success to begin with and destroyed most of his early work in 1941. However, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion 1944 established his reputation as a distinctive voice in the post war era. He was subsequently recognised as one of the major painters of the figure in the twentieth century. He represented Britain at the 27th Venice Biennale in 1954, alongside Lucian Freud and Ben Nicholson, and numerous solo exhibitions were held internationally during his lifetime including a major retrospective at the Tate Gallery in 1985. He died in Madrid on 28 April 1992.