Figure with Meat

Painting of hanging, ripped apart animal carcass with seated man
© 2016 Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. / ARS, New York / DACS, London

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  • Painting of hanging, ripped apart animal carcass with seated man

Date:

1954

Artist:

Francis Bacon
English, born Ireland, 1909–1992

About this artwork

Permeated by anguished visions of humanity, Francis Bacon’s paintings embody the existential ethos of the postwar era. In his powerful, nihilistic works, tormented and deformed figures become players in dark, unresolved dramas. Bacon often referred in his paintings to the history of art, interpreting borrowed images through his own bleak mentality. Figure with Meat is part of a now-famous series he devoted to Diego Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X (c. 1650; Galleria Doria-Pamphilj, Rome). Here he transformed the Spanish Baroque artist’s iconic portrayal of papal authority into a nightmarish image, in which the blurred figure of the pope, seen as if through a veil, seems trapped in a glass-box torture chamber, his mouth open in a silent scream. Instead of the noble drapery that frames Velázquez’s pope, Bacon is flanked by two sides of beef, quoting the work of seventeenth-century Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn and twentieth-century Russian artist Chaim Soutine, both of whom painted brutal and haunting images of raw meat. Framed by the carcass, Bacon’s pope can be seen alternately as a depraved butcher, or as much a victim as the slaughtered animal hanging behind him.

Currently Off View

Contemporary Art

Artist

Francis Bacon

Title

Figure with Meat

Origin

England

Date

1954

Medium

Oil on canvas

Inscriptions

No known inscriptions

Dimensions

129.9 × 121.9 cm (51 1/8 × 48 in.), without frame

Credit Line

Harriott A. Fox Fund

Reference Number

1956.1201

Copyright

© 2016 Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. / ARS, New York / DACS, London

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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