Bacon self-portraits to go on display for first time

The triptych Three Studies for Self-Portrait Image copyright PA
Image caption The Three Studies for Self-Portrait shows the artist becoming haunted by the inevitability of death

Two Francis Bacon self-portraits are going on public display for the first time after they were rediscovered in a private collection.

Experts knew of the existence of the works but had no idea who had bought the paintings soon after they were completed about 40 years ago.

The portraits, being sold by relatives of the owners, are estimated to fetch £15m each at auction.

They will go on show in London and New York before being auctioned in July.

'So luminous'

Self-Portrait 1975 was painted at the height of Bacon's career in the period that followed the suicide of his former lover George Dyer in 1971.

The triptych Three Studies for Self-Portrait shows the artist, who was then in his seventies and becoming increasingly haunted by the inevitability of death, with his eyes downcast.

Oliver Barker, Sotheby's senior international specialist in contemporary art, described the find as "a pretty extraordinary collecting moment".

He said: "Marlborough Fine Art kept a photographic archive and so both of these paintings appeared in a book on Bacon's self-portraits, but apart from being reproduced in books they've not been seen.

"The first time I saw these paintings it was such a wonderful awakening. They're both so luminous."

A Bacon painting featuring his friend and fellow artist Lucian Freud became the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction when it fetched $142m (£89m) in New York in 2013

The self-portraits go on sale at Sotheby's London Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 1 July.

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