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This is a rare example of Bacon’s pre-war painting. Although rather awkward in handling it demonstrates several features of his later work. The claustrophobic space is the setting for an obscure narrative, involving a dog-like creature and a robotic figure with a gaping mouth which screams in anger or pain. It was made around the time of the International Surrealist Exhibition in London in 1936, for which his work was, surprisingly, rejected as ‘insufficiently surreal’.

July 2008