Three Studies for a Self-Portrait
- Francis Bacon (British (born Ireland), Dublin 1909–1992 Madrid)
- Oil on canvas
- Each: 14 3/4 x 12 1/2 in. (37.5 x 31.8 cm)
- Credit Line:
- Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998
- Accession Number:
- Rights and Reproduction:
- © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
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.
London. Tate Gallery. "Francis Bacon," May 22–August 18, 1985, no. 109.
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. "Francis Bacon," October 10, 1985–January 5, 1986, no. 109.
Nationalgalerie Berlin. "Francis Bacon," February 7–March 31, 1986, no. 109.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," December 12, 1989–April 1, 1990, unnumbered cat. (p. 289).
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," April 19–July 15, 1990, unnumbered cat.
Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "De Matisse à Picasso: Collection Jacques et Natasha Gelman," June 18–November 1, 1994, unnumbered cat. (p. 315).
Edinburgh. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. "Francis Bacon: Portraits and Heads," June 4–September 4, 2005, no. 38.
Hamburger Kunsthalle. "Francis Bacon: Die Portraits," October 13, 2005–January 15, 2006, no. 51.
Düsseldorf. Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen. "Francis Bacon: The Violence of the Real," September 16, 2006–January 7, 2007, no. 63.
London. Tate Britain. "Francis Bacon," September 11, 2008–January 4, 2009, unnumbered cat.
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 in Twentieth-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 in Twentieth-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).
Sabine Rewald in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1999-2000." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 58 (Fall 2000), p. 60, ill. (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).