Lot 106
  • 106

Francis Bacon

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
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  • Corner of the Studio
  • signed and dated 34
  • ink and wash on paper

  • 52.5 by 40.5cm.; 20 3/4 by 15 7/8 in.


Gladys McDermot, London (acquired directly from the artist in 1934)
Thence by descent to the present owner


Ronald Alley, Francis Bacon, London 1964, p. 32, no. 12, illustrated 
Exhibition Catalogue, Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, Francis Bacon, 1996, p. 15, illustrated
David Sylvester, Looking Back at Francis Bacon, London 2000, p. 15, illustrated
Exhibition Catalogue, Paris, Musée National Picasso, Bacon Picasso: The Life of Images, 2005, p. 94, no. 81, illustrated 


Please refer to department for an external professional condition report.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

An exceptionally rare, early drawing by Francis Bacon, the present lot, Corner of the Studio, is one of the few compositions dating from the artist's crucial, formative years of production during the early 1930s. It was acquired directly from the young artist, then only 25 years old, by Mrs Gladys McDermot - one of Bacon's first patrons who in 1932 had commissioned him to design much of the decoration and furniture for her flat at 98 Ridgemount Gardens. Corner of the Studio has remained in her family's collection ever since, and this is the first time that it has been exhibited to the public.
Bacon's vocation as an artist followed a brief, but nonetheless successful, career as an interior decorator and designer, during which he had established himself within a close-knit circle of influential cultural luminaries that included Graham Sutherland, Patrick White, R.A. Butler, Arundell Clarke, and the Australian artist Roy de Maistre (1894-1968). It was de Maistre who ultimately encouraged Bacon's transition from designer to painter, and who during the early 1930s became a mentor figure and lover to the young self-taught artist. Embarking upon his newly chosen career with a passionate zeal, Bacon in 1933 took up residence in his first studio at 71 Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, a space which he occupied until 1936. Of the eight works known to have been painted by him at this time, Corner of the Studio gives the clearest representation of the space in which Bacon began his career, as well as the first indication of the intimate proximity he felt throughout his life towards his studio environment.

Like the Crucifixion he had painted in 1933, the angular biomorphic form that inhabits the foreground of the studio reveals a strong influence of Picasso's cubism which Bacon had first encountered on a trip to Paris in the summer of 1927. There is also a clear reference to Surrealism, notably invoked through its chance, involuntary marks in fluid ink wash that seek to blur distinctions between its multiple forms and lend it a dynamic sense of movement. In this it presages painted developments in his oeuvre by some ten years, and can be seen as an ancestor to the demonic beasts that Bacon unveiled in his first acknowledged masterpiece, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, (1944).

Corner of the Studio is crucially one of the few surviving works from Bacon's early career. Other works he had created during this transitional period were either destroyed before they left his studio or at a later date by Bacon whenever they resurfaced. As such it provides valuable insight into these obscure years from which scant information exists, casting new light onto the thematic and pictorial developments of one of the greatest masters of European Post-War art.