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

1 portrait of Francis Bacon

© The Jane Bown Literary Estate/ National Portrait Gallery, London

  • Use this image
  • ShareShare this

Francis Bacon

by Jane Bown
bromide print on card mount, 1983
13 7/8 in. x 19 3/4 in. (351 mm x 503 mm)
Given by Jane Bown and The Observer, 1981 in conjunction with the exhibition 'The Gentle Eye: Photographs by Jane Bown of The Observer'
Photographs Collection
NPG x126934

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Jane Bown (1925-2014), Photographer. Artist associated with 73 portraits, Sitter in 7 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Many of the best photographs of Bacon have been the result of chance. The photographer Jane Bown had been photographing Bacon at Reece Mews in South Kensington. He had been posed in front of the large round mirror in his studio, surrounded by paints and brushes. Bown recalls feeling slightly dissatisfied with these pictures. When the session was finished, Bacon escorted Bown down from his studio to say goodbye, 'he leant on the stable-door, and there it was!'. There was a beautiful light, and Bown seized the opportunity to take one final shot of the artist. This portrait was shown in an exhibition of images of artists at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, and published in the Observer newspaper.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Bown, Jane, Exposures, 2009, p. 48

Placesback to top

Events of 1983back to top

Current affairs

Margaret Thatcher wins a landslide majority for the Conservative Party at the general election. Although her premiership had previously been unpopular, the British victory in the Falklands coupled with divisions in Michael Foot's Labour opposition, helped her to gain popularity and win the most decisive election victory since 1945.

Art and science

The British sitcom Blackadder is aired for the first time. Each of the four series followed the character of the anti-hero Edmund Blackadder and took place during a different period of British history. The first series, The Black Adder, was a satire of medieval England during the rein of the fictitious Richard IV, and frequently lifted famous lines from Shakespeare.


The armed struggle between Tamil militants and the Sinhalese-dominated government of Sri Lanka begin with the Black July pogrom. Mobs (allegedly supported by the government) started attacking and murdering Tamils following an attack by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on government soldiers. Civil war between the government and Tamil nationalists has continued sporadically ever since.

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.

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.


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.