Menu

Francis Bacon

The First Pope

March 15–April 23, 2022
Davies Street, London

Installation view with Francis Bacon, ‘Landscape with Pope/Dictator’ (c. 1946) Artwork © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS 2022. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd

Installation view with Francis Bacon, ‘Landscape with Pope/Dictator’ (c. 1946)

Artwork © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS 2022. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd

Installation view with Francis Bacon, ‘Landscape with Pope/Dictator’ (c. 1946) Artwork © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS 2022. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd

Installation view with Francis Bacon, ‘Landscape with Pope/Dictator’ (c. 1946)

Artwork © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS 2022. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd

Works Exhibited

Francis Bacon, ‘Landscape with Pope/Dictator’, c. 1946 Oil on canvas, 55 ⅛ × 43 ¼ inches (140 × 110 cm)© The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS 2022

Francis Bacon, ‘Landscape with Pope/Dictator’, c. 1946

Oil on canvas, 55 ⅛ × 43 ¼ inches (140 × 110 cm)
© The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS 2022

About

Gagosian is pleased to announce the exhibition of Francis Bacon’s first treatment of the papal image—a subject that would preoccupy the artist on and off for at least two decades. Executed circa 1946, this highly important picture in Bacon’s oeuvre has never before been exhibited publicly. The canvas entered a private collection in 1967 and was only rediscovered during the compilation of the artist’s catalogue raisonné by Martin Harrison, which was published in 2016. The painting will be on view in Gagosian’s Davies Street gallery from March 15 to April 23, 2022.

Scholar, art historian, and Gagosian director Richard Calvocoressi commented, “It is particularly exciting that this important early Bacon has reemerged now, while three of the artist’s reinterpretations of the Pope theme—from 1949, 1951, and 1965—are on display in London, in the Royal Academy’s current exhibition, Francis Bacon: Man and Beast.

‘Landscape with Pope/Dictator’ (c. 1946) (the title is placed between quotation marks in the Bacon catalogue raisonné because the artist did not give it one) was painted in Monte Carlo, Monaco, where Bacon lived for much of the time from 1946 until 1950. Having survived the London Blitz and wartime austerity, he was susceptible to the Mediterranean climate, the good food, and the temptations of the casino. In Monte Carlo he completed only a handful of paintings, of which this is one. On October 19, 1946, he wrote to Duncan MacDonald, a director of the Lefevre Gallery in London: “I am working on three studies of Velasquez’s portrait of Innocent II [sic]. I have almost finished one. I find them exciting to do.”

Read more

Press

Gagosian
Hallie Freer
hfreer@gagosian.com
+1 212 744 2313

Bolton & Quinn
Erica Bolton
erica@boltonquinn.com
+44 20 7221 5000

Daisy Taylor
daisy@boltonquinn.com
+44 20 7221 5000

News

Francis Bacon, ‘Landscape with Pope/Dictator’, c. 1946, installation view, Gagosian, Davies Street, London © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS 2022. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd

In Conversation

Dawn Ades, Richard Calvocoressi, and Martin Harrison on Francis Bacon

Friday, April 8, 2022, 2pm EDT (7pm BST)

Join Gagosian for a conversation between art historians, curators, and Francis Bacon scholars Dawn Ades, Richard Calvocoressi, and Martin Harrison on the occasion of Francis Bacon: The First Pope at Gagosian, London. Livestreaming from the exhibition at Davies Street, the trio will explore the groundbreaking rediscovery of ‘Landscape with Pope/Dictator’ (c. 1946), the painting’s importance as arguably the earliest exemplar in Bacon’s pope series, and how the artist’s fascination with propaganda and the conflation of Fascist and papal imagery played a significant role both in this particular work and the series as a whole. To join the online event, register at eventbrite.

Francis Bacon, ‘Landscape with Pope/Dictator’, c. 1946, installation view, Gagosian, Davies Street, London © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS 2022. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd