As Bacon remarked to David Sylvester in 1975, “I loathe my own face. . . . I’ve done a lot of self-portraits, really because people have been dying around me like flies and I’ve nobody else left to paint but myself.” This striking triptych—the head emerging from a deep abyss of black paint—provides no sense of the space inhabited by the sitter. The tightly constricted view allows only for ruminations on the face itself—its ravages, its deep psychological depths—and the sense of turning around it slowly, going from one frame to the next, as if in a languorous panning shot.
Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed (verso of each panel): Study for Self Portrait/ 1979 – Francis Bacon/ left panel from/ front.; Study for Self/ portrait 1979/ Francis Bacon/ Center Panel; Study for Self Portrait/ 1979 Francis Bacon/ Right panel from/ Front.
the artist (until 1980; to Marlborough); [Marlborough Gallery, New York, 1980]; Jacques and Natasha Gelman, Mexico City and New York (1980–his d. 1986); Natasha Gelman, Mexico City and New York (1986–d. 1998; her bequest to MMA)
New York. Marlborough Gallery. "Francis Bacon: Recent Paintings," April 26–June 7, 1980, no. 13.
Madrid. Museo Nacional del Prado. "Francis Bacon," February 3–April 19, 2009, unnumbered cat. (p. 250, as "Tres estudios para un autorretrato").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective," May 18–August 16, 2009, unnumbered cat.
Sydney. Art Gallery of New South Wales. "Francis Bacon: Five Decades," November 17, 2012–February 24, 2013, unnumbered cat. (p. 200).
David Sylvester. Interviews with Francis Bacon: 1969–1979. 2nd enl. ed. (1st ed., 1975). London, 1980, no. 111, ill. frontispiece (center panel) and pp. 144 (right-hand panel), 145.
Michel Leiris. Francis Bacon: Full Face and in Profile. New York, 1983, no. 126, ill.
Dawn Ades and Andrew Forge. Francis Bacon. Exh. cat., Tate Gallery. New York, 1985, no. 109, ill.
Wieland Schmied. Francis Bacon: Vier Studien zu einem Porträt. Berlin, 1985, p. 86, no. 127, ill.
David Sylvester. The Brutality of Fact: Interviews with Francis Bacon. 3rd enl. ed. (1st ed., 1975; 2nd ed., 1980). London, 1987, no. 111, ill. p. 144.
Sabine Rewald inTwentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pp. 288–93, ill. (color and bw).
William S. Lieberman inTwentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pp. 1, 16.
Judith H. Dobrzynski. "20th Century Art Treasures Are Left to Met." New York Times (May 6, 1998), pp. A1, B6, ill.
William S. Lieberman. "Donation Gelman: l'École de Paris au Metropolitan." Connaissance des arts no. 554 (October 1998), p. 106.
Andrew Decker. "Metropolitan: Une Exceptionnelle donation." Beaux Arts no. 170 (July 1998), ill. p. 24 (color).
Armin Zweite, ed. Francis Bacon: The Violence of the Real. Exh. cat., Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf. London, 2006, pp. 180–81, no. 63, ill. (color).