Catalogue entry


Ink on white wove paper
253 x 189 (10 x 7 7/16)
Watermarked ‘Telelinen | BRITISH MADE | NO 1 MILL’ upside down across centre
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

Acquired from the artist (by 1961)

Francis Bacon: Working on Paper, Tate Gallery, London, February-April 1999 (35, reproduced in colour)

Matthew Gale, ‘Points of Departure’, in Francis Bacon: Working on Paper, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.32

Bacon used black ink to draw, with extreme brevity, the man sitting amongst piles of cushions on converging sofas. Few details are secured in a process which one critic has suggested achieved ‘an oriental sense of economy’.[1] Nevertheless, the characteristic flattening of the foot - comparable to the hand in Seated Figure (T07364) - and the tense body, generated by the grasping of the other folded leg, relate the sketch to a type of image generic in the artist’s work of the period. This tight, cross-legged pose emerged in the mid 1950s,[2] and was resumed with Seated Figure, 1960 (private collection)[3] and Seated Figure, 1961 (Tate Gallery, T00459); in all of these examples it is achieved on the canvas in a more balanced way (in which the sweep from shoulders to arms is emphasised) than found in the listing figure of the sketch. Curiously the setting can be matched more precisely. It relates closely to the sofas drawn in pencil on an earlier sheet (Tate Gallery Archive 9810) [4] from the same sequence of sketchpad pages watermarked ‘Telelinen’. The particular background contour of raised cushions appeared quite precisely in Seated Woman, 1961 (private collection),[5] a canvas which used a figure from another page in the ‘Telelinen’ sketchpad: Seated Woman (T07386).

As only nine pages survive from this sketchbook, gaps may be expected in the sequence. One of these must occur between Man on a Sofa which has a pink off-print on the reverse, and the following black and white image Nude Reading (T07383).

This is one of the sheets from a sketchpad showing perforations along the left hand side and watermarked ‘Telelinen’; general issues relating to their creation and preservation are discussed in the entry on Man on a Bed (T07381).

Matthew Gale
February 1999

[1] Richard Cork, ‘I can’t draw, said Bacon’, Times, 26 January 1998, p.18
[2] E.g. Portrait of a Man, 1953, private collection, reproduced in Ronald Alley, Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné and Documentation, London 1964, [p.188], no.77; and Study for Figure VI, 1956-7, Hatton Gallery, Newcastle, reproduced ibid. [p.211], no.123
[3] Reproduced ibid. [p.231], no.172

[4] Reproduced in Francis Bacon: Working on Paper, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.68, no.33

[5] Reproduced Alley 1964, [p.236], no.181