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  • CROUCHING DYER, HIDDEN BACON

    Francis Bacon’s haunting Portrait of George Dyer Crouching comes up at Sotheby’s contemporary art evening auction in New York in May. It is the first in a series of ten monumental portraits of Dyer created between 1966 and 1968 and it has never been on the auction market before. Dyer is portrayed shirtless, crouched over his discarded shirt like a predator over his prey, his head depicted in triplicate as it turns towards the viewer, combining Dyer’s face with Bacon’s, nodding to their indivisibility. This image of the entwined head is among the best examples within Bacon’s oeuvre – a significant motif that would persist throughout his work. The revolutionary impact that Dyer and Bacon had on each other’s lives can be felt palpably here, as the first painting in a series that would, over years, chronicle the seduction and sadness, frustration and fulfillment, tension and collapse that underlined one of the most tempestuous relationships in art history.

    It was acquired from The Marlborough Gallery in 1970 and has not been on the market since. It is the first full-scale portrait of Dyer at auction since another from this same cycle, George Dyer Talking, sold in 2014 for $70 million – establishing the record for any single-panel portrait by Bacon. The centerpiece of Francis Bacon: Man and Beast held at the Royal Academy of Arts, London in 2022 Portrait of George Dyer Crouching is estimated at between $30 million and $50 million.

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