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The furious movement of the two principal figures is placed within a claustrophobic setting, watched over by the portrait, which gives this work a striking intensity. It is usually seen as an image of tragic suffering. One - and possibly both - of the twisting human figures have been identified as George Dyer, the artist’s lover, who committed suicide in 1971. The bird-like form in the foreground, with its snarling human mouth, has been linked to the Furies, the fearsome agents of divine judgement in Greek mythology.

July 2008