Passion & Power: The Anatomy of a Francis Bacon Portrait

Francis Bacon’s Head I of 1958 was painted at a turning point in the artist’s career. This work was the last one that Bacon sent to Erica Brausen, who had represented him at the Hanover Gallery for more than ten years, before he left for Marlborough Fine Art. The picture also captures the drama of Bacon’s personal life. Completed in the borrowed rooms he occupied in Overstrand Mansions in Battersea, the painting depicts Peter Lacy, Bacon’s lover during the period. Bacon loved the older man with an almost obsessive passion, but Lacy was an alcoholic and fiercely abusive throughout their companionship. Conveying violence as well as tenderness, the portrait speaks to the complexity of their relationship as well as Bacon’s influences and working methods at the time.