Francis Bacon - Study for a portrait of John Edwards


Original Lithograph in colours,1986, on Arches paper, with full margins, signed by the artist in pencil.

Edition: 180. There were also 30 Hors Commerce proofs and 5 dedicated proofs made. The plate is destroyed.

Literature:  Francis Bacon: Estampes - collection Alexandre Tacou Number 23 ; Bruno Sabatier, Francis Bacon: The Graphic Work, no. 22

Note:  Although the subject of this composition was John Edwards, Bacon's great friend for the later years of his life and the inheritor of his estate, it is nonetheless, like all Bacon's work, non specific. Bacon met Edwards whist he was working as a Barman in “The Swan”, one of three Pubs run by his elder brothers. He was asked to provide Champagne for Bacon - who never turned up. Later he met Bacon and abused him for this act of unkindness. As a result they became friends and would often eat breakfast together. The artist did not attend an exhibition of his paintings in Moscow but sent Edwards to represent him. A study of Edwards, painted for this show, was used by the French on their 5 Franc postage stamp. When the artist died in 1992 Edwards was devastated and he inherited Bacon’s house, studio, cash and a number of paintings. When Edwards himself died in Bankok. It is reported that he died as he had lived : laughing and joking.

Bacons portraits, although inspired by a sitter, are not 'of' that person, they are not personalised. He saw them rather as a collection of human elements brought together to make a universal statement. Bacon became increasingly pessimistic about man's role in life. From the earliest moments of his career he felt that man's striving to justify and explain, and even focus the purpose of his existence was essentially futile. He was convinced that this striving had inspired the greatest of human artistic achievements but that in the final analysis it would lead nowhere. He wrote 'man now realises that he is an accident, that he is a completely futile being... Art has become a game by which man distracts my case through painting'. Bacon's work in lithography is all derived from his paintings, but it evokes the same powerful emotions through the handling of the forms, through the use of the colours, and through the force of the imagery.

Published by: Editions de la Difference, Paris, 1986


  1. Serge Sorokko Gallery, San Francisco, California. Their valuation dated 4/9/1997 for US$12,500 is provided to the buyer.
  2. Mrs Cynthia William, Wood Lane, Clearwater, Floria. Invoice from the above to her dated 2/8/1997.Sold for the sum of US$10,000

Printed by: Arts Litho, Paris, 1986

Size:   Paper size: 945 × 683 mms; Image Size: 685 x 550 mms

Authentication:  Sold with certificate of authenticity and appraisal done by Serge Sorokko Gallery in 1997 with an estimated value of US$12,500,