Study after Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X – Francis Bacon

Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X , 1953 is a painting by the Irish born artist Francis Bacon. The work shows a distorted version of the portrait of Pope Innocent X painted by the Spanish artist Diego Veazquez in 1650.

The work is one of a series of variants of Velázquez’s painting which Bacon executed throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, over a total of forty-five works. When asked why he was compelled to revisit the subject so often, Bacon replied that he had nothing against the Popes, that he merely "wanted an excuse to use these colours, and you can’t give ordinary clothes that purple colour without getting into a sort of false fauve manner."

The Pope in this version seethes with anger and aggression. The pleated curtains of the backdrop are rendered transparent, and seem to fall through the Popes’s face.

Francis Bacon often referred to other artists and used photographs as reference material for his paintings. The scream of the Pope may also be referencing the famous painting by Edvard Munch, "The Scream".

Bacon was quoted as saying "We are born with a scream; we come into life with a scream, and maybe love is a mosquito net between the fear of living and the fear of death." It is not a quote that relates directly to this work, but has some relationship with it.


It is on display at Des Moines Art Center, Iowa, USA



Filed under Art

2 responses to “Study after Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X – Francis Bacon

  1. Elle

    this painting is scary – I not sure about the use of a the pope – I think thats why it scares me
    a very artistic site tho –
    God Bless You and Yours

  2. debbie

    this is a very interesting painting, it is similar to the scream painting but abit scarier & i think we can all relate to the scream painting sometimes!    deb

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