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    Francis Bacon – Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus

    Francis Bacon’s large-format Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus will highlight the Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby’s in New York on May 13. It will be offered with an estimate in excess of $60 million.

    Inspired by Aeschylus’s trilogy of Greek tragedies dating to the 5th century B.C. this dates to 1981. The artist revisits the same classical text that inspired Three Studies for Figures at the Base of the Crucifixion at the Tate Collection, London. It is one of the 28 large-format triptychs Bacon created between 1962 and 1991 and reveals in a single work the entire range of an iconography developed over three decades of painting. Sotheby’s describe it as one of his most ambitious, enigmatic, and important works.

    Acquired in 1984 by the Norwegian Collector Hans Rasmus Astrup the triptych has been in the care of Astrup Fearnley Museet in Oslo since 1993. Hans Rasmus Astrup explained that the museum; “is meant to be a lasting resource for the public, as it builds on the existing collection and grows beyond it. With this single sale we can ensure that the museum and collection are here in perpetuity.”

    Bacon’s theme of divine punishment is found in Aeschylus’ most famous trilogy, The Oresteia, in which Clytemnestra murders her husband Agamemnon in revenge for the sacrifice of their daughter, Iphigenia. When the son Orestes finds out, he kills his mother to avenge his father’s death, provoking the avenging Furies, also called the Eumenides, who determine to drive Orestes insane as punishment.

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