Bacon portrait of lover seen selling for $49 million at auction

Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:55am EST
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By Julia Fioretti

LONDON (Reuters) - A celebrated portrait by Francis Bacon of his lover and muse George Dyer could raise up to 30 million pounds ($49 million) on auction in London next month, Christie's said on Wednesday.

A Bacon triptych sold last year set an auction record of $142 million.

The "Portrait of George Dyer Talking" from 1966 is one of the most famous images of Bacon's lover and was exhibited at his Retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris in 1971, a Christie's statement said.

The Irish-born Bacon met Dyer in London's Soho district in 1963, drawn to him by his fragility and need for protection. An anxious, constant smoker and problematic drinker, Dyer went on to dominate Bacon portraits for the rest of the decade.

Dyer committed suicide in 1971.

The portrait will be offered at the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction on February 13 in London.

"Francis Bacon's position at the forefront of 20th century painting was highlighted at Christie's in November when his triptych of Lucian Freud sold for $142 million and became the most valuable work of art sold at auction," said Francis Outred, head of post-war and contemporary art at Christie's.

"It is exciting to be able to follow this success by offering this tour-de-force portrait of George Dyer which presents a powerful portrait of arguably one of Bacon's greatest loves."   Continued...

Irish artist Francis Bacon sits for a photograph in the Tate Gallery in London during his latest exhibition May 16, 1985. REUTERS/Brian Smith