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Painter Francis Bacon's triptych breaks record at art auction

By Greg Goodsell
November 13th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

During his lifetime, he was denounced by then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as "that man who paints those dreadful pictures." It looks like Irish-born artist Francis Bacon, who died in 1992 will have the last laugh. His triptych, "Three Studies of Lucian Freud," painted in 1969 has fetched a whopping $142.4 million, breaking the record for a work of art sold at auction, which was Edvard Munch's "The Scream," which sold for $119.9 million in 2012.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Sold as part of a Christie's auction in New York of postwar and contemporary art, the auction itself brought in $691.6 million. The Bacon painting depicts fellow British artist in three different seated poses against an orange background.

Reportedly purchased by art dealer William Aquavella for an unidentified client, the bidding lasted several minutes and featured rival offers from seven would-be owners.

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The recent sale is the latest in a line of major millions shelled out over for works of art. Munch's 1895 "The Scream" was bought at a Sotheby's auction in New York in 2012. Prior to that, the record holder was Picasso's 1932 "Nude, Green, Leave and Bust" that sold for $106.5 million at a Christie's auction in 2010.

The record purchase for any work of art is believed to be held by Cezanne's "The Card Players" that sold in 2011 for more than $250 million, which was purchased by the royal family of Qatar in a private sale from the estate of the Greek shipping tycoon George Embiricos.

Bacon was a controversial artist who was known for his bold, graphic and emotionally raw imagery. His paintings were usually abstracted figures that appear isolated in glass or steel geometrical cages set against flat, nondescript backgrounds.
 
At first unsure of his ability as a painter, he drifted and earned his living as an interior decorator and designer of furniture and rugs. He at one time admitted that his career was delayed because he had spent too long looking for a subject that would sustain his interest.

He first gained notoriety for the 1944 triptych Three Studies for "Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion" which sealed his reputation as a uniquely bleak chronicler of the human condition.

A bon vivant and straight-forwardly homosexual, he spent many of the evenings of his middle age eating, drinking and gambling in London's Soho district. Following the 1971 suicide of his male lover, Bacon largely withdrew from the London social scene to paint. He died from cardiac arrest at the age of 83.

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