Unfinished portrait by Lucian Freud of Francis Bacon sells for 9.4 million

LONDON — One of only two portraits of painter Francis Bacon by his friend and fellow British artist Lucian Freud sold at auction for $9.4 million Sunday, Christie’s said.

The auctioneer said the painting, the only one of the pair whose whereabouts are known, “offers a tangible and intimate glimpse into the inspirational friendship of two of the greatest British artists of the 20th century.”

The other painting, made in 1952, was stolen from an art gallery in Berlin in 1988 and has never been recovered.

The self-taught Bacon is best known for his violently distorted portraits and disturbing compositions redolent with isolation and fear. Bacon led a tortured personal life, destroying much of his earlier work. His surviving pieces are among the most sought-after – in May, his “Triptych, 1976” sold for $86 million in New York, setting a record for postwar art.

Freud, the grandson of psychologist Sigmund Freud, immigrated to England in 1933 and started painting full-time after the Second World War.

The realist painter met Bacon in 1945 at the home of a mutual friend, and the pair formed a close friendship, cementing their bond by sitting for each other’s paintings. While Bacon often drew Freud, Freud made only two portraits of Bacon. The second one, sold Sunday at auction, was painted in 1956-7.

The unfinished oil painting shows Bacon looking down, his jowls tinged with hints of green, his lips slightly pursed. Swaths of white space and unsteady sketch marks show where the portrait was abandoned.

Source: The Canadian Press

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