Francis Bacon British, born Ireland

Not on view

This drawing is one of Bacon’s earliest works and his first known portrait. It represents an imagined boy, although it may be based on the likeness of his older brother, Harley, who had died the previous year. Portrait is stylistically distinct from Bacon’s mature works, and contains none of the psychological torment and physical distortion evident in his later paintings. Yet the boy’s sickly face, distracted gaze, and unnaturally red shirt evoke a sense of strangeness and alienation—pervasive themes in the artist’s oeuvre. Bacon would continue to explode the genre of portraiture for fifty more years. This portrait demonstrates the artist’s approach to the genre at the beginning of his career, before he began working seriously with oil, his primary medium.

Portrait, Francis Bacon (British (born Ireland), Dublin 1909–1992 Madrid), Pastel and graphite on paper, mounted on card

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