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Pope

Francis Bacon

Contemporary Art

With its male figure seated on a schematic throne, Personnage is likely related to Bacon’s paintings from the early 1950s inspired by Diego Velázquez’s mid-seventeenthcentury portrait of Pope Innocent X. This canvas, which shows traces of an earlier image through the thickly applied pigment, appears to be one of many that Bacon abandoned before completion. A 1982 letter from the artist to the Brooklyn Museum reveals that Bacon discarded the painting in 1956–57, considering it a failure. He gave it to an artist friend, who apparently did not follow through on his intention to obliterate the image and paint on the other side. Here, as in Bacon’s many other unfinished canvases, the power of the artist’s vision still makes itself felt.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
  • Place Made: Tangier
  • DATES 1956-1958
    DIMENSIONS 77 1/8 × 55 1/8 in., 103 lb. (195.9 × 140 cm) frame: 85 x 63 x 3 in. (215.9 x 160 x 7.6 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Unsigned
    COLLECTIONS Contemporary Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 81.306
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Olga H. Knoepke
    RIGHTS STATEMENT © artist or artist's estate
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    CAPTION Francis Bacon (British, 1909-1992). Pope, 1956-1958. Oil on canvas, 77 1/8 × 55 1/8 in., 103 lb. (195.9 × 140 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Olga H. Knoepke, 81.306. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 81.306_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 81.306_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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