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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Study for a Portrait

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

Study for a Portrait


Francis Bacon

English, 1909-1992

Beginning in 1948, Bacon’s preferred working method was in thematic series. Study for a Portrait, however, is a rare single composition that was never repeated. The self-referential inclusion of earlier works on the wall behind the seated woman—Three Studies for a Crucifixion (1962) on the right and likely Seated Figures (1962) in the middle—is also unique. Henrietta Moraes, a frequent subject and friend of Bacon, is depicted in Study for a Portrait. Bacon commissioned the photographer John Deakin to take nude photographs of Moraes, and the images of her poses acted as the basis for most of the artist’s female nudes made between 1961 and 1972.
Oil on canvas
61 x 55 in. (155 x 139.8 cm)
Gift of the Friday Foundation in honor of Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis
Provenance: [Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York]; Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Bernstein, New Orleans; [David McKee Inc., New York]; purchased from gallery by Jane and Richard Lang, Seattle, Washington, 1976
Photo: Spike Mafford / Zocalo Studios. Courtesy of the Friday Foundation
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistoryLiverpool, England, Walker Art Gallery, John Moores Liverpool Exhibition, Nov. 23, 1967 - Jan. 21, 1968. Cat. no. 14 (as Study for a Portrait, July 1967).

New York, New York, Marlborough-Gerson Gallery Inc., Francis Bacon: Recent Paintings, Nov. 11 - Dec. 7, 1968. Cat. no. 5, pp. 32-33, reproduced.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Carnegie Institute, Museum of Art, Pittsburgh International, 1970.

New Orleans, Louisiana, New Orleans Museum of Fine Art, New Orleans Collects, Nov. 14, 1971 - Jan. 9, 1972.

New York, New York, Museum of Modern Art, Four Contemporary Masters: Giacometti, Bacon, de Kooning, Dubuffet, organized by the International Program of the Museum of Modern Art, under the auspices of the International Council at the Museum of Modern Art (Caracas, Venezuela, Museo de Bellas Artes, Apr. - May, 1973; Bogotá, Colombia, Museo de Arte Moderno, May 30 - June 28, 1973; Mexico City, Mexico, Museo de Arte Moderno, July 19 - Aug. 24, 1973; São Paolo, Brazil, Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Sept. 13 - Oct. 7, 1973; Rίo de Janeiro, Brazil, Museu de Arte Moderno, Oct. 15 - Nov. 4, 1973).

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. 3, pp. 14-15.

Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Francis Bacon, Oct. 12, 1989 - Jan. 7, 1990 (Los Angeles, California, Los Angeles County Museum, Feb. 11 - Apr. 29, 1990; New York, New York, Museum of Modern Art, May 24 - Aug. 28, 1990). Cat. no. 32, reproduced.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, SAM at 75: Building a Collection for Seattle, May 5 - Sept. 9, 2007.
Published ReferencesRussell, John. Francis Bacon. Greenwich, Connecticut: New York Graphic Society, Ltd., 1971. No cat. no., p. 219, reproduced pl. 87.

A Community of Collectors: 75th Anniversary Gifts to the Seattle Art Museum. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum and University of Washington Press, 2008. Reproduced p. 41.

Harrison, Martin. Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné. London: The Estate of Francis Bacon, 2016. Cat. no. 67-11; pp. 724, 726, 728, reproduced p. 725.

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