Francis Bacon Study for Portrait II (after the Life Mask of William Blake) 1955

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Artwork details

Artist
Francis Bacon 1909–1992
Title
Study for Portrait II (after the Life Mask of William Blake)
Date 1955
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 610 x 508 mm
frame: 733 x 631 x 70 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Purchased 1979
Reference
T02414
Not on display

Display caption

This is one of a series based on the life mask of poet and painter William Blake. Bacon first saw the mask at the National Portrait Gallery in London, but he also used photographs and, at some point, he even acquired a cast of it. His response to the source is typical of his preference for a mediated image of the body. The painting is more complex than it seems: it is built up with delicate layers of paint against a rich black ground. One commentator wrote, ‘broad strokes of pink and mauve, with which Bacon establishes an equivocation between waxen mask and human flesh, drag pain and loneliness and imperturbable spirit in their wake’.

May 2007

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