Francis Bacon Seated Woman c.1957–61

Artwork details

Artist
Francis Bacon 1909–1992
Title
Seated Woman
Date c.1957–61
Medium Graphite on paper
Dimensions Support: 254 x 190 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
T07386
Not on display

Catalogue entry

T07386

Pencil 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


Provenance:
Acquired from the artist (by 1961)

Exhibited:
Francis Bacon: Working on Paper, Tate Gallery, London, February-April 1999 (39, reproduced in colour)

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

A soft pencil of the type also used on Cross-legged Figure with Arms Raised, no.1 (T07384) was used even more vigorously on Seated Woman, the last of the surviving pages from Bacon’s ‘Telelinen’ sketchpad. The pose is both casual and sexually charged, as the female nude is seated on a characteristic sofa, coyly holding her hands between her knees. This throws the body into awkward tensions which are emphasised by the heavier marking of the shoulder and the opposing hip. The limbs are especially sketchy, but the head, with hair falling over the breasts and the face turned in profile, has been given considerable attention. The occurrence of female nudes in Bacon’s work became more frequent in the late 1950s and partly derives from the photographs of Henrietta Moreas taken for him by John Deakin.

The pose was followed fairly closely on the canvas of the same title, Seated Woman, 1961 (private collection),[1] although the effect there is more frontal. The shoulders are hunched forwards, the torso set straight and the face raised to look at the viewer. Ernst van Alphen has read Bacon’s female nudes as actively, even aggressively undermining the traditional objectification of women in Western art,[2] and this reading may be applicable more to the painting than to the sketch from which it derives. Curiously the complex sofa cushions used on the canvas does not follow the simple lines of the sketch but rather the arrangement found in Man on a Sofa (T07382) from the same sketchbook.


Note:
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] Reproduced in Ronald Alley, Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné and Documentation, London 1964, [p.236], no.181; also reproduced in Matthew Gale, ‘Points of Departure’, in Francis Bacon: Working on Paper, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.32, fig.30
[2] Ernst van Alphen, Francis Bacon and the Loss of Self, London 1992, pp.168-74

About this artwork