Head VI

1949

Bacon, Francis
A portrait of Pope Innocent IX from 1650 by the Spanish painter Diego Velazquez (1599-1660) provided the starting point for Francis Bacon's painting 'Head VI' - one of a series of paintings of popes created by the artist. Although Bacon based his figure on Velazquez's brooding pontiff, the screaming mouth also recalls the anguished cry of the bespectacled nanny in Sergei Eisenstein's film 'Battleship Potemkin', 1925. Bacon used photographic reproductions as references for his work (in fact he never saw Velazquez's painting firsthand), including hand-coloured illustrations from medical books of mouth diseases, as sources of inspiration. Francis Bacon's iconoclastic view of horror, death and human frailty has influenced subsequent generations of artists. 'Head VI' is recognised as one of Bacon's greatest masterpieces, one that retains its power to unsettle the viewer even today. Susan May
  • Artwork Details: 93.2 x 76.5cm
  • Edition:
  • Material description: oil on canvas
  • Credit line: © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All Rights Reserved. DACS 2015
  • Theme: Portrait
  • Medium: Painting
  • Accession number: AC 230

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The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

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