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Francis Bacon triptych could sell for more than £30m at auction debut

The work is being previewed at Sotheby’s in London.

07 October 2022

A Francis Bacon triptych depicting his close friend Henrietta Moraes is expected to sell for more than £30 million when it goes to auction this month.

Moraes was a key figure in London’s post-war artistic landscape and acted as a muse for both Bacon and Lucian Freud.

The paintings, titled Three Studies for Portrait of Henrietta Moraes, come from the collection of American media executive William S Paley, who acquired the work months after it was finished in 1963.

Sotheby’s contemporary art sales
Three Studies for Portrait of Henrietta Moraes by Francis Bacon during a preview at Sotheby’s (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The triptych will make its auction debut at Sotheby’s in London during a contemporary evening sale on October 14.

Until recently it was kept under the stewardship of the Museum of Modern Art (Moma) in New York, where it stayed for more than 30 years following Mr Paley’s death in 1990.

Bacon, known for his bold and shocking figurative style, died aged 82 in 1992.

His work focused on the human form in an often brutal manner and included a number of triptychs, religious images of crucifixions and popes, and self-portraits.

Sotheby’s contemporary art sales
Head of JYM by Frank Auerbach (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The sale also includes German artist Gerhard Richter’s 192 Farben, which has an estimated sale price of between £13 million and £18 million, the highest placed for a work from its series.

Also featured are Frank Auerbach’s Head of JYM and a 1948 portrait by Jean Dubuffet in his signature art brut style.

A full preview of the series will be unveiled at Sotheby’s New Bond Street Galleries from October 8-14 ahead of the evening auctions on October 14.

It will be followed by the contemporary day sale the following afternoon.

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