You Can Now Own Francis Bacon’s Painting Gloves
These art history relics are going under the hammer next week.
According to the auctioneers, Bacon wore the gloves in question when he created his celebrated triple portrait of Lucian Freud, Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969), which sold for £89m ($142m) at Christie’s New York in 2013.
With a presale estimate of £5,000 – £7,000 ($7,000 – $10,000), the paint-stained gloves were used by the artist in his studio at the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London’s Cromwell Road, where he moved after his studio at 7 Reece Mews was destroyed by fire.
Bacon gifted his work Study for Bullfight No1 to the RCA in lieu of rent for the six months he used the studio.
The lot up for sale consists of two left-handed cotton gloves that show an accumulation of oil paint deposits, evidence of brush wiping, and of test mixing of pigment.
Framed alongside them is a hand-written note explaining their provenance: when Bacon vacated the RCA studio, the gloves were lifted from the detritus by painter and teacher Bateson Mason, who gifted them to the present owner.
The note reads: “Wednesday John Souvenir !! These Really ARE Francis Bacon’s Painting Gloves! He finished working at our place this morning and amongst the rubbish I actually found them!!! I felt sure they would appeal to you. Yrs, Bateson P.S. 2 left hands?”
Bacon was right handed, but would only wear a glove on his left hand, which he used to clean his brush as he worked. The paint-splattered artefacts go a way towards penetrating the mystery shrouding the creative process of the iconic artist, and may provide insight into his practice.
The items will add to a growing catalogue of Bacon relics, which includes an installation preserving his entire studio behind glass at the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin.
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