Francis Bacon. Study of a Baboon. 1953

Francis Bacon Study of a Baboon 1953

  • Not on view

Bacon based the screaming baboon in this painting on a photograph in one of his favorite books, Marius Maxwell’s 1925 Stalking Big Game with a Camera in Equatorial Africa (1925). Bacon visited Africa many times throughout his life (his mother lived in South Africa) and was reportedly struck by the disparity between the caged animals at the local parks and those that roamed free. In Study of a Baboon, this tension can be felt in the placement of the fence, which is ambiguous; it appears to be simultaneously in front of and behind the tree in the foreground. Bacon's vigorous brushstrokes evoke a violent energy that, for him, was synonymous with beauty. "I would like some day to trap a moment of life in its full violence, its full beauty," he stated. "That would be the ultimate painting."

Gallery label from 2011
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
6' 6 1/8" x 54 1/8" (198.3 x 137.3 cm)
Credit
James Thrall Soby Bequest
Object number
1198.1979
Copyright
© 2018 Estate of Francis Bacon / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London
Department
Painting and Sculpture