Three Studies of Lucian Freud

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Three Studies of Lucian Freud is a 1969 oil-on-canvas triptych by the Irish-born British painter Francis Bacon, depicting artist Lucian Freud. All three panels, in Bacon’s typical abstract, distorted, isolated style, show Freud sitting on a cane-bottomed wooden chair within a cage, on a curved mottled-brown surface with a solid orange background. Behind each figure is a headboard of a bed, originating in a set of photographs of Freud by John Deakin which Bacon used as a reference. The central panel portrays the figure face on, in a pose similar to that Bacon used for George Dyer, his lover. The three canvases of the triptych are the same size and are each individually framed.
On 12 November 2013, the triptych sold for US$142.4 million to Elaine Wynn at Christie’s New York auction house, nominally becoming the most expensive work of art ever to be sold at auction. When inflation is taken into account, a higher price was reached at the same auction house for Van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr. Gachet, which in 1990 sold for $149 million current dollars. Bacon’s triptych did surpass the constant dollar record of $119.9 million set by the fourth version of Edvard Munch’s Scream in May 2012. The 2013 sale also represents the highest price paid for a work by a British or Irish artist, beating Bacon’s Triptych 1976, which fetched $86.3 million in May 2008. That record was surpassed in May 2015 by Version O of Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger series.

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