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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Portrait of Man with Glasses I

Photo: Spike Mafford / Zocalo Studios. Courtesy of the Friday Foundation

Portrait of Man with Glasses I


Francis Bacon

English, 1909-1992

Following Francis Bacon’s 1962 retrospective exhibition at the Tate Gallery, London, portraiture remained the artist’s main focus for the duration of the 1960s. In 1963, Bacon painted the series of four versions of Portrait of Man with Glasses. Originally titled Head 1 through Head 4, the paintings were not necessarily painted in this order and the titles subsequently changed.

The four portraits are dominated by distortion and deformation. Portrait of Man with Glasses I is the most abstract painting in the group, where the features of the face are entirely obfuscated. Bacon did not reveal the man’s identity, though research suggests that the subject could be London eye surgeon Patrick Trevor-Roper, with whom the artist socialized at the time. As Bacon worked from photographs and had images of Mahatma Gandhi and James Joyce in his studio, the latter have also been proposed as possible identities for the portraits.
Oil on canvas
13 1/2 x 11 1/2 in. (34.3 x 29.2 cm)
Gift of the Friday Foundation in honor of Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis
Provenance: The artist; [Marlborough Fine Art, London]; Private Collection, New York; [Sotheby Parke-Bernet, New York, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Oct. 24–25, 1974, sale no. 3684, lot no. 528]; acquired from the above by Jane and Richard E. Lang, Seattle, 1974; Friday Foundation, Seattle, 2018; Seattle Art Museum, 2020
Photo: Spike Mafford / Zocalo Studios. Courtesy of the Friday Foundation
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Exhibition HistoryLondon, England, Marlborough New London Gallery, Francis Bacon, July - Aug. 1963.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, The Richard and Jane Lang Collection, Feb. 2 - Apr. 1, 1984. Text by Bruce Guenther and Barbara Johns. Cat. no. 2, pp. 12-13, reproduced (as Portrait of Man with Glasses).

New York, New York, Robert Miller Gallery, “. . . a room with a Soutine, Neel, Hockney, Freud, Ensor, Guston, Morley, Bacon, Kossoff, Basquiat and de Kooning.” Dec. 4 - 29, 1990.

Norwich, England, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Francis Bacon in the 1950s, Sept. 26 - Dec. 10, 2006; cat. no. 5 (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Milwaukee Art Museum, Jan. 29 - Apr. 15, 2007; Buffalo, New York, Albright Knox-Gallery, May 5 - July 30, 2007). Cat. no. 43 (as Man with Glasses), reproduced.
Published ReferencesAlley, Ronald. Francis Bacon. New York: Viking Press, 1964. Cat. no. 217, p. 154, reproduced.

Russell, John. Francis Bacon. Greenwich, Connecticut: New York Graphic Society, Ltd., 1971. No cat. no., p. 190, reproduced pl. 57.

Trucci, Lorenza. Francis Bacon, trans. John Shepley. New York, Abrams, 1975. Cat. no. 89, reproduced.

Harrison, Martin. Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné. London: The Estate of Francis Bacon, 2016. Cat. no. 63-08; pp. 724, 726, 728, reproduced p. 725.

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