Rare Francis Bacon self-portait expected to sell for £18million

Rare Francis Bacon self-portait expected to sell for £18million

A HAUNTING double self-portrait by Francis Bacon could fetch £18milion when it goes under the hammer at Sotheby’s in London next month.

Completed in 1977, the Two Studies for Self Portrait diptych is one of only three self-portraits created in this dual style by the painter throughout his career.

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

This portrait was painted in Bacon's later life during the bleak years that followed the death of his lover George Dyer in 1971 and evokes the painter’s emotions at a time when he “became increasingly concerned with the dark psychological depths of his own psyche”, according to experts at Sotheby’s.

“Of all the subjects he depicted, it is the self-portraits - painted with an almost obsessive intensity - that bring us closest to the artist,” Oliver Barker, Sotheby’s Deputy Chairman for Europe, explained.

“It's this extraordinary intimacy and power, together with their rarity, that make Bacon's self-portraits so irresistible to collectors."

Bacon’s self-portraits consistently fetch astronomical prices at auction, with a 1978 offering more than doubling its estimated price when it sold for £21.6m at Sotheby’s London in 2007.

Elsewhere a 1969 example, also offered in 2007, at Sotheby’s New York, was bought for $33.1m.

Next month’s sale of Bacon’s dual format portrait, which is the first of such a style to come up for auction, is expected to continue the high sale trend and fetch an estimated £13-£18m.

It will be auctioned within Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Sale in London on Tuesday, February 10.

Bacon’s portraits of his lover are similarly coveted by collectors, with the triptych Three Studies for Portrait of George Dyer selling at Sotheby’s London for £26.7m in June 2014.

Meanwhile Christie’s London auction house recently announced that their total annual global arts sales figure for 2014 (a substantial £5.1 billion) was largely bolstered by the sale of a Bacon lot.

The artist’s Portrait of George Dyer set a world record for a single canvas sale when it sold for £42.19million last February, contributing to Christie’s bumper year.