Francis Bacon’s Last Painting Has Been Revealed

1991's Study of a Bull is part of a “very private, private collection in London."

It’s been a pretty good few months for historians unearthing new works by deceased creative geniuses. First in November, a never-before-read short story by Edith Wharton was discovered in a Yale library. And last week, two poems by J. R. R. Tolkien from his days as a professor were found in England. Now, the final painting by Francis Bacon has been brought to light.


“Study of a Bull” (1991) / photo courtesy of The estate of Francis Bacon (All rights reserved, DACS 2016)

The previously undocumented painting in question is Study of a Bull, painted by the British artist in 1991—a year before his death due to cardiac arrest as part of his chronic asthma. At the top left of the canvas is a blue and gray bull located in the middle of a jumbled hallway with his bottom half dissolving into the abyss. The painted bull is also covered in real dust from Bacon’s South Kensington studio.

Study of a Bull might have been recently discovered by art historian Martin Harrison, who is currently working on the complete catalog of Bacon’s work, but The Guardian reports that the 1991 painting has been part of “very private, private collection” in London for years. Harrison is well aware of the importance of this piece:

It was the last painting he finished and there is no documentation for it and it is far too late for him to have spoken about it in interviews and it has never been shown before.

The painting will now take center stage at the Grimaldi Forum Monaco’s upcoming exhibit entitled Francis Bacon, Monaco and French Culture, which starts on July 2.


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