Francis Bacon Study for a Portrait March 1991 1991 © Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS, London 2023


Born 1909
Died 1992
Nationalities British
Birth place Dublin
Death place Madrid

Bacon was born in Dublin to English parents and in the late 1920s spent time in Berlin and Paris before settling in London. It was only after seeing an exhibition of Picasso's work in Paris that he decided to become a painter. Self-taught, he gained some success as a designer of furniture and rugs, but painted comparatively little in the 1930s. Bacon said that painting only became really important to him in about 1945, the date that his triptych of the previous year, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (Tate Gallery, London) was exhibited in London. This controversial work served to launch the artist's career.

Glossary terms

Glossary terms

School of London

A group of London-based figurative painters of the second half of the twentieth century including Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon and Frank Auerbach.


An art movement of the 1970s and 80s inspired by German Expressionism. Most popular in Germany and America, the style is characterized by large, figurative works, rapidly painted, often with objects, such as broken plates or straw, incorporated into their surfaces.

Figurative Art

A term for art that refers to the representation of the human figure, however, altered or distorted. It is often applied to paintings and sculptures made after twentieth-century abstraction that re-introduced elements of the human body into abstract styles, including work by Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Francis Bacon, and Lucian Freud.