Francis Bacon

Biography of Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon was a twentieth century painter known for his raw figures.

When and Where was he Born?

28th October 1909, Dublin, Ireland.

Family Background:

Francis Bacon was the son of English parents. His father, Anthony Edward Mortimer Bacon had been born in Adelaide, Australia and was an officer in the British Army. On retirement he had become a trainer of horses. His mother was Winifred Christina Loxley Firth whose family had made a fortune in the steel industry.

Education:

Little formal education as his family never stayed in any one place for long due to an army lifestyle.

Timeline of Francis Bacon:

His early years were beset by illnesses and allergies and he was not expected to live till the age of twenty-one. It was later found that he was allergic to horses and dogs much to the annoyance of his father who was an outdoor type who liked hunting. Bacon grew to despise his father.

1914: His father was given a post in the War Office in London during the First World War so the whole family moved there.

1918: Bacon returned to Ireland but the family were worried about reprisals from the IRA (Irish Republican Army).

1925: He was thrown out of home by his father with a small allowance as his father had caught him dressed in his mother’s clothing. He moved to London and stayed in a series of rented rooms. He worked as a painter and decorator.

1927: He began painting in watercolours. He traveled to Berlin with a relative and was highly influenced by the violent images then being portrayed in german art. He particularly admired also the work of the Bauhaus group.

1929: Bacon began painting in oils. He moved on to Paris where he saw the work of Picasso. He also saw the Surrealist films by Luis Bunuel “Un Chien Andalou” and “L’Age D’or” both of which are memorable for their violent imagery. He returned to London and made a living as a furniture designer but he also began to paint although he had had no formal training. He had to take other jobs to make ends meet such as a switchboard operator, odd job man and a valet.

1930: He held his first exhibition, a joint studio show with his friend Roy De Maistre.

1933: Bacon held exhibitions at the Mayor Galleries. Painted “Three Crucifixions”.

1934: He exhibited oils and gouaches at the Transition Gallery in London.

1939: Bacon’s chronic asthma prevented him from being called up in the forces during the Second World War but he worked in the Civil Defence Volunteer Force particularly during the Blitz of 1940 where he witnessed many harrowing scenes of death and carnage.

1944: He took part in “Young British Painters” at the Agnew Gallery.

1945: Bacon’s painting “Three Studies for Figures at the Base of the Crucifixion” was exhibited at the Lefevre Gallery and it made him overnight the most controversial painter in Britain.

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion. 1944. (Tate Gallery)

1946: Took part in an international exhibition of modern art organised by UNESCO.

1950: Bacon exhibited at the Knoedler Gallery in New York.

1953: He had his first one-man exhibition outside of Britain in New York.

1954: Along with Ben Nicholson and Lucian Freud, Bacon represented Britain at the Venice Biennale.

1961: He had his first retrospective exhibition at the University of Nottingham.

1962: Retrospective at the Tate Gallery in London.

1965: Bacon exhibited in Hamburg.

1975: Bacon exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York.

1988: His work was exhibited in Moscow for the first time.

When and Where did he Die? 

28th April 1992, Madrid, Spain

Age at Death:

90.

Marriage:

Never married as gay. (homosexuality was illegal in England until 1967).

Site of Grave:

Cremated in Madrid at a service with no friends or relatives present. Ashes scattered in the countryside.

Places of Interest:

ABERDEEN:

Art Gallery.

BIRMINGHAM:

City Museum and Art Gallery.

LONDON:

Tate Modern.
Royal College of Art.
Arts Council of Great Britain.

LEICESTERSHIRE:

Leicester Museum.

MANCHESTER:

City Art Gallery.
Whitworth Art Gallery.

NORFOLK:

Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, Norwich.

YORKSHIRE:

Art Gallery, Batley.
Temple Newsham House, Leeds.
Huddersfield Art Gallery.
Ory Gallery, Leeds.

SCOTLAND:

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.
Aberdeen Art Gallery.

WALES:

National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.