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  • BACON’S MEDITATION ON THE PASSAGE OF TIME AT CHRISTIE’S

    Francis Bacon – Triptych 1986-7. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £38,459,206,

    ONE of Francis Bacon’s last great paintings, Triptych 1986-7, will come to auction for the first time at Christie’s 20th/21st Century on March 1. The London evening sale is a key auction within the 20/21 Shanghai to London series. This triptych, an extraordinary meditation on the passage of time and the solitude of the human condition, is estimated at £35-50 million. The suited figure in the left-hand panel is based on a press clipping of the US President Woodrow Wilson, stepping forward as he was leaving the Treaty of Versailles negotiations in 1919; the right-hand panel was inspired by a photograph of Leon Trotsky’s study taken after his assassination in 1940. In the centre sits a figure resembling Bacon’s then-partner John Edwards, his pose reminiscent of the artist’s beloved George Dyer in the haunting eulogy Triptych August 1972 (Tate, London). Widely exhibited throughout its lifetime, Triptych 1986-7 was most recently seen in the Centre Georges Pompidou’s acclaimed exhibition ‘Bacon en Toutes Lettres’(2019-20).

    The year after its creation, Triptych 1986-7 was one of 22 paintings shown at the Central House of Artists’ Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow: the first exhibition by a well-known artist from the West to take place in Soviet Russia. Many viewers did not recognise the Trotsky photograph as a source, but to those who did, the painting’s presence heralded a sea-change in the country’s political attitudes towards art: the Iron Curtain, notably, would fall the next year. It is one of a rare number of large-scale triptychs by Bacon to remain in private hands. Between 1962 and 1991, the artist produced just 28 such works measuring 78 by 58 inches, nearly half of which reside in museums worldwide. 

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