The Guardian has a piece this week on the mysterious orb held by Christ in the Leonardo da Vinci painting currently on view at Christie’s. “Solid glass or crystal, whether shaped like an orb or a lens, produces magnified, inverted, and reversed images,” historian Walter Isaacson says of the image. “Instead, Leonardo painted the orb as if it were a hollow glass bubble that does not refract or distort the light passing through it.”
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Francis Bacon, image via National Galleries
b. 1909 in Dublin, died 1992 in Madrid
Bacon was considered a modern artist but did not belong to any particular art movement. He developed his own style of work, often creating scenes involving violence or sexuality.
Bacon is an Irish born painter, who is best known for his nightmarish, grotesque imagery. He lived a tumulus life, constantly moving, being shuffled around to relatives, a strained relationship with his father, menial jobs, and a severe case of asthma and a violent allergy to dogs and horses. He was never formally trained or attended any art schools.
His medical conditions caused him to purchase a medical book on the subject matter diseases of the mouth, which contained images that would haunt him for the rest of his life. Bacon noted that the 1925 silent film The Battleship Potemkin, was highly influential on his work.
His first show was in 1929, which exhibited his rugs and furniture he had created while working as an interior designer. His later works were an abstraction of the human form.
Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (1944) via Tate Collection
Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (1944) would be the first forerunner of Bacon’s works that would take the triptych format. Three panels placed behind heavily gilded frames, an open mouth a reference to the The Battleship Potemkin, and the use of distortion.
Study After Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent image via Art Quotes
Bacon also became interested in Diego Velasquez’s work, particularly, his Portrait of Pope Innocent X, 1650. Bacon painted a series of Popes, however his version the Pope was more gruesome and nightmarish.
Triptych (1972) via Tate Collection
Bacon destroyed his previous works he did not deem worthy, many ending up with slashed canvases. His relationship with Eastender George Dyer influenced his Triptych (1973), which documents Dyer’s suicide, and would continue to be a theme for his works for the rest of his life.
Bacon died of a heart attack April 28, 1992 while in Madrid, Spain.