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Lying Figure in Mirror

Francis Bacon

Dublin, Ireland, 1909-Madrid, 1992

Lying Figure in Mirror

Oil on canvas

198.5 x 147.5 cm


Acquired in 1982

A male figure is reflected in a mirror framed by two white lines, which also depicts part of the circular interior—an arena or a stage for erotic performances—in which it is placed. The geometric and chromatic reduction of the floor, walls and roller blinds forms a sharp contrast with the sensual and elastic treatment of the deformed headless presence that dominates the composition, the plastic quality of which matches the interest that sculpture held for Bacon at the time (he kept a picture of Michelangelo’s Day from the Medici Chapel in his studio). Far from making the room larger, the mirror—a common feature in his oeuvre since the late sixties—stresses the idea of confinement and transforms the viewer into a voyeur of his own distorted reality. Having settled in London in 1925, from 1926 to 1928 Bacon travelled to Berlin, Munich and Paris, where he came into contact with the work of Picasso and Buñuel and began to paint. In the early years of the following decade he produced his first major paintings, albeit the little impact they caused led him to destroy a part of his work and to give up painting completely until 1944. During the fifties he would create his own personal style of figurative painting, inspired by the oeuvre of Rembrandt, Velázquez, Van Gogh and Picasso and by the pioneers of photography. The retrospective exhibition of his works held at the Tate Gallery in 1962 built up his reputation, which was confirmed in 1971 by the huge acclaim of his show at the Grand Palais in Paris. In 1990, two years before his death in Madrid, he visited the Velázquez exhibition at the Prado Museum. [M.G.M.]