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'Figure in a Landscape' is the earliest of the drawings by Bacon now in the Tate Collection. Both carefully conceived and spontaneously painted, it demonstrates how such sketches allowed him to practice with both image and handling. The nude man crouching in long grass is seen rather more clearly in the related oil painting 'Study of Figure in a Landscape' 1952 (Phillips Collection, Washington). The slashing brushstrokes suggest that this immersion in nature is not without its perils. These works followed Bacon's trips through southern Africa in 1951 and 1952, but also drew upon his enthusiasm for the photographs in 'Stalking Big Game with a Camera in Equatorial Africa' by Marius Maxwell.

September 2004