The Francis Bacon market took a major turn when Henry Kravis was said to have bought a pope painting in early 2007 for $35m in a private sale. Since then, there have been major sales above $50m and, despite the financial crisis, something of a recovery in Bacon market. That probably makes it a good time to offer this small-ish pope which has not been seen on the market for nearly 40 years, as least that is Sotheby’s calculation:
On 13 November 2012 Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York will offer one of the most important versions of Francis Bacon’s iconic Pope Paintings ever to have appeared at auction. The vision of screaming Popes emerged from the desolate shadows of the Second World War as humanity tried to make sense of the horrors that had been committed during those years. This version was painted circa 1954 and is closely related to the artist’s Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, the seminal masterpiece that is now housed in the Des Moines Art Center in Iowa.
Untitled (Pope) has been in the same private collection since a 1975 auction at Sotheby’s London and is estimated to fetch $18/25 million (£11/15 million). The work goes on public exhibition for the first time in nearly 40 years at Sotheby’s Los Angeles on 27 September before being shown in London from 7 October and Doha later this autumn.