The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon, by Guy Bourdin, 1986 - NPG x199965 - © The Guy Bourdin Estate 2018/ Courtesy of Louise Alexander Gallery

© The Guy Bourdin Estate 2018/ Courtesy of Louise Alexander Gallery

  • Larger Image
  • Image zoom
  • Use this image
  • Recent Acquisition
  • ShareShare this

Francis Bacon

by Guy Bourdin
C-type colour print, 1986
12 1/8 in. x 13 1/4 in. (307 mm x 335 mm) image size
Purchased, 2017
Photographs Collection
NPG x199965

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Guy Bourdin (1928-1991), Photographer. Artist of 1 portrait.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • 100 Photographs, 2018, p. 112 Read entry

    Dublin-born Francis Bacon (1909-92) left Ireland at the age of sixteen, settling permanently in England in 1928. The work Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (1944, Tate) established him as an artist of international importance. Bacon used diverse source imagery and became known for his bold, abstracted figurative paintings with their tormented and powerful view of the human condition. Parisian-born Guy Bourdin (1928-91) was one of the most radical and influential fashion photographers of the twentieth century. His fusion of surreal and erotic imagery graced the pages of international magazines such as French Vogue during the 1970s and 1980s. Bourdin made this portrait of Bacon at the Marlborough Gallery in 1986. In the background the artist’s work Triptych - Study of a Self-Portrait (1985-6) can be glimpsed. Through the movement of the sitter, Bourdin recreates the swirling forms of Bacon’s painting.

Placesback to top

Events of 1986back to top

Current affairs

Hampton Court Palace is devastated by fire. Much of the third floor and the roof of the building were destroyed, although, thanks to the courage of the fire fighters, only one painting and one piece of furniture were ruined.
Prince Andrew, Duke of York, marries Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey.

Art and science

Poems on the Underground, the brainchild of American writer Judith Chernaik, is launched by London Underground. A rolling programme of poems is displayed in tube train carriages, bringing contemporary and classic poetry to commuters.
The Independent Newspaper is first published.
Artists, Gilbert and George win the Turner Prize.

International

An explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power station leads to nuclear meltdown in the reactor and causes massive nuclear contamination over Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, western Europe, the UK and Ireland, and even North America. The 2005 Chenobyl Forum attributed 56 direct deaths to the disaster and estimated that 9,000 people may die from some form of cancer as a result of exposure to radiation.

Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. You can buy a print of most illustrated portraits. Select the portrait of interest to you, then look out for a Buy a Print button. Prices start at £6 for unframed prints, £25 for framed prints. If you wish to license this image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

Richard Krall

07 February 2019, 15:39

I was present when this photograph was made as Guy Bourdin's assistant when he shot Bacon's portrait for French Vogue. This image was exposed on Polaroid PolaChrome 35MM instant slide film. I processed this roll of film, myself, on the spot, in Guy's personal PolaChrome processor. After the 90 seconds it takes to develop the image, the film came out of the processor. Guy evaluated it while I loaded a roll of Ektachrome into his Nikon and adjusted the shutter and aperture for the light. When Guy finished that roll of film, Bacon called an end to the shoot. He then graciously signed copies of his Tate Gallery catalog and gave them to us. I still have mine and it's a prized possession. Guy preferred the PolaChrome image to the Ektachrome and Vogue, of course, printed it.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.

Citationclose

How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.