In the 1950s, Francis Bacon began a series of eight paintings based on Vincent van Gogh's 'The Painter on the Road to Tarascon', 1858. The latter was destroyed in a Second World War bombing raid and, according to the critic John Russell, Bacon probably never saw the work itself but only knew it from a reproduction. Likewise, it seems likely that Bacon never saw Velasquez's portrait of Pope Innocent X, which was the inspiration for his famous series of paintings of Popes.
As 'The Painter on the Road to Tarascon' no longer existed, Bacon was able to use a certain freedom of expression. Painting at high speed, he was able to mirror Van Gogh's bright palette and texture and imbue the work with a sense of energy and emotion characteristic of Van Gogh's work. Bacon said of the Van Gogh painting that the 'haunted figure on the road seemed just right at the time, like a phantom of the road, you could say.'
- Artwork Details: 198.1 x 142.2cm
- Material description: oil on canvas
- Credit line: © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All Rights Reserved. DACS 2015
- Theme: Portrait
- Medium: Painting
- Accession number: AC 424