A rare female nude billed by Christie’s as Francis Bacon’s most seductive female portrait comes up at the Post War and Contemporary sale in London on February 14. Portrait of Henrietta Moraes, painted towards the end of 1963, is to be auctioned for the first time. The sitter, a regular fixture at the artist’s favourite haunt, The Colony Room in Soho, was muse to a number of contemporary artists. Once the lover of Lucian Freud she appeared as his sitter in Girl in a Blanket (1952).
Christie’s head of post war and contemporary art in Europe Francis Outred said: “Searing with raw colour and texture, Portrait of Henrietta Moraes is one of the most seductive and sexually charged paintings I have ever encountered by Francis Bacon. The carefully constructed mood through colour is forcefully invaded by the extraordinary swipes of the loaded brush, which create the woman’s voluptuous figure. This juxtaposition of the sheer beauty of colour with the brutal physicality of paint is what makes Bacon’s art so remarkable”.
The estimate is undisclosed, but is put at around £18 million.