FRANCIS BACON, Anglo-Irish painter (b. 1909); An Irish-born figurative painter, Bacon was a collateral descendant of the Elizabethan philosopher Francis Bacon. His artwork is known for its bold, austere, and often grotesque or nightmarish imagery. In 1964, Bacon began a relationship with 39-year-old Eastender George Dyer, whom he met, he claimed, while the latter was burgling his apartment. A petty criminal with a history of borstal and prison, Dyer was a somewhat tortured individual, insecure, alcoholic, appearance obsessed and never really fitting in within the bohemian set surrounding Francis. The relationship was, to say the least, stormy and in 1971, on the eve of Bacon’s major retrospective at the Paris Grand Palais, Dyer committed suicide in the hotel room they were sharing, overdosing on barbiturates. The event was recorded in Bacon’s 1973 masterpiece Triptych May-June 1973. In 1974, Bacon met John Edwards, a young, illiterate, handsome Eastender with whom he formed one of his most enduring friendships.
Bacon died of a heart attack on April 28, 1992, in Madrid, Spain. He bequeathed his entire estate (then valued at £11 million) to John Edwards. Edwards, in turn, donated the contents of Francis Bacon’s chaotic studio at 7 Reece Mews, South Kensington, to the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin. Bacon’s studio contents were moved and the studio carefully reconstructed in the gallery. Additionally draft materials, perhaps intended for destruction, were according to Canadian Barry Joule bequeathed to Joule who later forwarded most of the materials to create the Barry Joule Archive in Dublin with other parts of the collection given later to the Tate museum.
Bacon’s Soho life was portrayed by John Maybury, with Derek Jacobi as Bacon and Daniel Craig (with some rather lovely frontal nudity of Craig) as George Dyer (and with Tilda Swinton as Muriel Belcher), in the film Love Is the Devil (1998), based on Daniel Farson’s 1993 biography The Gilded Gutter Life of Francis Bacon. Available: http://www.tlavideo.com/product/1-0-111245_love-is-the-devil.html?sn=3809 A tough movie to watch in some ways, but five stars from this reviewer.