Christie’s has another “barn find” of a painting that has been in the same family for 45 years and not been shown publicly:
Francis Bacon’s landmark painting Study of Red Pope 1962. 2nd version 1971, unseen in public for 45 years. It stands as the grand finale to his celebrated body of Papal portraits and is the only painting that unites the Pope with his greatest love George Dyer, who is depicted as the Pope’s reflection. First exhibited on 26 October 1971, in the legendary retrospective of Francis Bacon’s work at the Grand Palais in Paris,Study of Red Pope 1962. 2nd version 1971 was executed six months earlier in April 1971. The painting represents the first and only time in his oeuvre that Bacon united his two greatest obsessions: the Pope and George Dyer – his great muse and lover. The canvas became a tragic premonition of Dyer’s fateful end when, less than thirty-six hours before the opening of the career-defining exhibition, Dyer was found dead. Acquired by the family of the present owner in 1973 this work has appeared in all the major publications dedicated to Bacon’s work but never exhibited publicly. Francis Bacon’sStudy of Red Pope 1962. 2nd version 1971 will come to auction as the centerpiece of Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 6 October 2017 and will be on view at Christie’s King Street from 30 September.