Catalogue entry

T07362

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, February-April 1999 (12, reproduced in colour)

Literature:
Matthew Gale, ‘Points of Departure’, in Francis Bacon: Working on Paper, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.26

That the use of a sketchbook allowed Bacon to make variations on a single theme is born out by Figure with Left Arm Raised, no.2 and its companion Figure with Left Arm Raised, no.1 (T07361). The reverse of the latter bears the blue off-printing of the more heavily worked Figure with Left Arm Raised, no.2 from which the pose was probably traced. The fact that it was only the blue in the off-print suggests that the thicker pink and green paint (colours typical of the sketchbook as a whole) were added later. Furthermore, where this additional paint is thickest, in the area of the lower foot, the top layer has been flattened by pressure from the closure of the book but has left only the oil stain rather than colour on the opposite page. All of this suggests that Figure with Left Arm Raised, no.2 was conceived in blue outline, traced over for Figure with Left Arm Raised, no.1, and only then returned to for further work. This resumed phase was equally energetic, though more generous in the laying on of paint, and has resulted in cracking where the paper has been folded along its length.

The pose for both drawings is taken from the right hand figure in the penultimate frame of the sequence of ‘Athletes Fencing’ in Eadweard Muybridge’s The Human Figure in Motion, which was isolated and enlarged at the end of the volume.[1] Bacon compressed the pose and, with the addition of the green shading to the pink, exaggerated its energetic nature. He also introduced a more detailed background than he employed in the companion sketch, apparently envisaging a view down onto a delineated platform typical of his work. The result is a space which may be seen to have developed out of the carefully demarcated screen against which Muybridge photographed his models.


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.77, series 31, and ‘Phases of Motion Selected from Various Seriates’, p.219, reproduced in Matthew Gale, ‘Points of Departure’, in Francis Bacon: Working on Paper, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.27