Francis Bacon Bending Figure, No. 1 c.1957–61

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Artwork details

Artist
Francis Bacon 1909–1992
Title
Bending Figure, No. 1
Date c.1957–61
Medium Oil paint on paper
Dimensions Support: 340 x 270 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Purchased with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and a group of anonymous donors in memory of Mario Tazzoli 1998
Reference
T07371
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Catalogue entry

T07371

Oil on white wove paper
340 x 270 (13 3/8 x 10 5/8)
Purchased from Paul Danquah and Peter Pollock with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Art Collections Fund and a group of anonymous donors in memory of Mario Tazzoli, 1998

Provenance:
Acquired from the artist (by 1961)

Exhibited:
Francis Bacon: Working on Paper, Tate Gallery, London, Feb.-April 1999 (21, reproduced in colour)

Literature:
Matthew Gale, ‘Points of Departure’, in Francis Bacon: Working on Paper, display cat., Tate Gallery, London 1999, pp.27-8

Bending Figure, no.1 employs the same pose as the more thoroughly worked Bending Figure, no.2 (T07379) from further on in the same sketchbook. Less elaborately than on its companion, Bacon merely outlined the bent figure in a handful of strokes of black oil paint. In this reduced detail, the form achieves a certain symmetry: arms and legs, head and buttocks becoming almost interchangeable. It is possible to relate the pose to the side-views from Eadweard Muybridge’s photographs of an ‘Athlete. Heaving 75 Pound Rock’ in The Human Figure in Motion.[1] This was on of Bacon’s favourite sources and he made several paintings with crouching and bending figures through the 1950s. While the repetition of the pose might suggest its development in the sketches, neither can be securely linked to a surviving canvas.


Incidental marks on Bending Figure, no.1 show that it originally followed Fallen Figure with Arms Up (T07370) - on the reverse of which it has left three points of paint - and was followed by Figure Crawling (T07372), which bears the blots of paint that have caused the oil stains throughout this sequence of pages. The theme in several adjacent drawings, such as the preceding one, may suggest that the artist associated this pose with boxing, although no further evidence is offered by the greater detail of Bending Figure, no.2.

Note:
This is one of twenty-six works on paper from the same spiral bound sketchbook showing perforations along the left hand side; general issues relating to their creation and preservation are discussed in the entry on Two Owls, no.1 (Tate Gallery T07355).

Matthew Gale
February 1999


[1] Eadweard Muybridge, The Human Figure in Motion, London 1901, p.65, reproduced in Matthew Gale, ‘Points of Departure’, in Francis Bacon: Working on Paper, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.27

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