Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer, 1963 will be a highlight at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary evening sale in New York on May 17. It was formerly in the collection of author Roald Dahl, a friend of Bacon’s, and it has never been auctioned before. Dahl became an admirer of Bacon’s work when he first encountered it on a touring exhibition in 1958. He was unable to collected it at that time, but after enjoying success in the 1960’s he acquired four works by Bacon between 1964 and 1967. The triptych here is one of these works.
Painted in 1963, Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer marks the beginning of Francis Bacon’s relationship with Dyer, his greatest muse. This triptych is the very first portrait Bacon made of his lover who came to feature in many of the artist’s most arresting and sought after works. George Dyer came to appear in at least forty of Bacon’s paintings, many of which were created after his death in Paris in 1971. The convulsive beauty of this work represents the flowering of Bacon’s infatuation with Dyer, and is only one of five triptychs of Dyer that the artist painted in this intimate scale. It is estimated at $50=70 million.
Loic Gouzer, Deputy Chairman, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Remarked: “Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer is a masterful tryptych, which was completed with the first three months of Bacon’s relationship with the most important muse of his career. These powerful portraits exemplify the dynamism and complex psychology that the artist is most revered for. And with its tremendous significance to the artist and excellent provenance, we are honored to have the opportunity to present this monumental work at auction for the first time.”