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Francis Bacon’s Portraits from Life

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Gallery image 11 of 14

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Date: 1618-26 Artist: unknown
Location: Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire (National Trust Collections)
Medium: oil on canvas
Provenance: From 1786 – 1959, property of Hardwick Hall; in 1959 Hardwick Hall and its contents were accepted by HM Treasury in part payment of death duties and transferred to the National Trust
Image credit: Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, UKNational Trust Photographic Library / Bridgeman Imag

Curiously, Sir Roy Strong suggests that this head and shoulders portrait of Francis at Hardwick Hall is directly derived from William Larkin’s 1610 picture at Raveningham Hall. This is unlikely due to the fact that the subject is wearing the ceremonial robe of the Lord Chancellor, as can be seen from the gold embroidery on either shoulder. A more plausible prototype would be the 1617 Larkin portrait at Trinity College, Cambridge. However, in the Hardwick Hall picture the ruff is quite different, perhaps exaggerated, and the hat sits squarely on the head, unlike all the other formal portraits of Bacon in which the hat is slightly raked to the left. More disturbingly, although it may well be a ‘representation’ of Francis Bacon, in this image it doesn’t look like him. The beard and hair are longer than usual and the proportions of the face bear only a passing resemblance to the other portraits. According to the National Trust, the exact date of this portrait is unknown.