UK Auctioneer To Sell Francis Bacon 'Screaming Pope' Paintings Canvases cut from "Screaming Pope" paintings by Francis Bacon have emerged and will be sold by the Surrey auctioneer who sold other but unidentified fragments of Bacon works for more than £1 million.
painted canvases represent an important moment in art history. It was no secret that Lewis Todd once used discarded canvases from Francis Bacon's studio, it was even mentioned in Todd's obituaries, but to have identified authenticated Bacon pieces which feature one of Bacon's haunting pope portraits is incredible.
"It also leads to the intriguing speculation that there are more examples of Bacon's paintings in existence used by Todd for his own purposes, while someone, somewhere might even have a painting by Todd with a pope's head on the back of it. Anyone who owns a painting by Todd should take it off the wall and check the back of the canvas. Those seemingly random daubs of paint could indicate a work of far greater significance."
Most valuable of the six oils shows the yellow, white and black edge and leg of a chair, and some of the white papal clothing, on a black and blue ground. It measures 36 by 24 inches, with an additional 3 by 4 inches obscured where the canvas is wrapped and nailed to stretchers. The "right" side shows a still life painted by Todd in 1958, and is signed and inscribed verso, 'The Studio at Orchard Avenue'. It is estimated at £25,000-30,000, as is another showing what appears to be the fleshy hand and arm of a Bacon pope. Also visible is the white and green arm of the chair on a black and blue ground. The painting measures 21 by 26 inches and has been removed from its stretchers. On the front is a painting of a house and tree by Lewis Todd.
Estimated at £15,000-25,000 is a canvas measuring 34.5 by 30 inches overall. It shows a set of curtain rings on a black background with three lines of a cube. The use of black as a background and apparent cube structures around figures was frequently employed by Bacon. Similar rings appear in Untitled (Pope) illustrated in "Francis Bacon The violence of the real" by Armin Zweite plate 10 page 116. Lewis Todd's painting on the front shows a boy reading a book.
Two other canvases are each estimated at £10,000-20,000. One shows a typical yellow and white edge of a chair from a pope portrait, on a striped purple, black, and blue ground. Bearing similarities to Bacon's 'Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X (1953)', it measures 29 by 24.5 inches overall and bears Todd's portrait of a man wearing a hat on the front.
The other shows typical vertical black stripes in a style used frequently by Bacon as the background for his 1953-54 pope portraits. Written in pencil by Todd is the title of one of his paintings and the words "A Francis Bacon Screaming Pope" inscribed verso. It measures 27 by 21 inches overall and is painted with a still-life by Todd.
This and the other four authenticated pieces were included in a PhD research project at Northumbria University sponsored by the Bacon Trust. As part of the