If it were not such a recognizable feature in the portraits of Francis Bacon (Dublin, 1909-1992), those distorted faces like masses of living flesh, one might think that the painter distilled an anticipated hatred in the image he sketched of his friend, and also artist, Lucien Freud (Berlin, 1922-2011).
The Sotheby's gallery in London has sold this Wednesday for 43 million pounds (50 million euros), the highest bid made in the London art market in the last decade, the
Study for a Portrait of Lucien Freud
The price after the hammer blow was 37.5 million pounds (43.5 million euros), to which commissions must be added.
This is how they tried to sell the stolen Bacon paintings in Madrid
The room at Sotheby's in London was packed.
Champagne, cocktails, and the atmosphere of attending the most important auction after the pandemic.
"The star of this bid, and a true masterpiece," announced the director of the auction.
Buyers from Mexico, Argentina, Dubai or Hong Kong participated by phone, from a distance.
The starting price of £32m was high enough that there wasn't the tension that there has been with other works of art, just as coveted but relatively more affordable.
Bacon was inspired by a photograph of his great friend for forty years, taken by John Deakin.
In black and white, Freud appears seated on a bed in a white shirt with his arms outstretched.
Bacon painted him in 1964—one of many portraits he made of him—baring his chest, his fists tense on a green bench, his lower face a mush of muscles, veins, and nerves.
It was part of a triptych, a way of working very typical of Bacon, who saw any artistic motif as part of a long series.
After being exhibited in Hamburg, Stockholm, and finally Dublin, the author allowed the three paintings to be sold separately.
Until now, the one auctioned at Sotheby's, approximately two meters by 1.5 meters, belonged to a "European private collector" whose identity remains anonymous.
The work had not been exhibited to the public for more than half a century.
Bacon and Freud, the two figurative painters who revolutionized post-World War II British art, admired each other for decades, painted each other constantly, and absorbed from each other a heartrending, carnal style that charted a path of their own. in the world of contemporary painting.
In addition to being together all day.
Have breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks together in London's Soho.
And drink together.
And spend all your money on shared gambling.
Many of his friends concluded that they were lovers, but it was rather artistic passion that linked the two men in a sensual way.
If Bacon was expelled by his father from an aristocratic home after discovering him while trying on his mother's clothes, and never hid his homosexuality, Freud, declared father of 14 children - and father of at least 40, according to legend - was a irreducible seducer of women.
"I have dined with Bacon practically every night during my marriage to Lucien," said Lady Caroline Blackwood, Freud's second wife.
"We also ate together."
The marriage lasted four years.
In the late 1980s, the two men's friendship turned into a bitter rivalry fueled by artistic jealousy and competition for fame and prestige.
Like Constable and Turner, their constant taunts and criticisms did nothing more than reveal the latent mutual admiration, and the mutilated need to continue growing both, one at the expense of the other.
British Art: The Jubilee Auction
(British Art: the Jubilee Auction) has managed to raise more than 240 million euros, with a lot focused on the most prominent artists of the United Kingdom of the last centuries.
's Cloud Study
to JMW Turner 's
View of London and the River Thames from Vauxhall to the canvas
, by the founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, John Everett Millais.