Rediscovered Francis Bacon self-portraits expected to fetch £30million

Rediscovered Francis Bacon self-portraits expected to fetch £30million


TWO recently rediscovered self-portraits by Francis Bacon are expected to fetch up to £15m each when they go under the hammer at Sotheby's this summer.

The artworks - titled Self-Portrait (1975) and Three Studies for Self-Portrait (1980) - will go on public display for the first time in June, after being kept in a private collection for decades.

While experts were aware of the existence of the paintings, it was not known who owned them.

Oliver Barker, Sotheby's senior international specialist in contemporary art, said the discovery was "a pretty extraordinary collecting moment".

"The Marlborough Fine Art firm kept a photographic archive and so both of these paintings appeared in a book on Bacon's self-portraits, but apart from being reproduced in books they've not been seen," he explained.

"We knew of the existence of the paintings but simply had no idea where they could be. The first time I saw these paintings it was such a wonderful awakening - they're both so luminous," he added.

Born to an English family in Dublin in 1909, Bacon grew up in Co. Kildare. In 1914 his father took the family to London and joined the Ministry of War.

Self-Portrait was painted in 1975, at the height of Bacon's career, following the suicide of his former lover George Dyer in 1971.

Five years later he produced Three Studies for Self-Portrait, where the artist is depicted as a person increasingly troubled by the prospect of death.

The self-portraits will be up for grabs at Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Sale in London on July 1.