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Francis Bacon’s Portraits from Life

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Gallery image 14 of 14

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Date: 1640 Artist: William Marshall (c.1617-1649) after Simon van de Passe (1595-1647)
Medium: engraving
Image credit: Courtesy of Gary Keegan

There are two reasons why this posthumous engraving is included in this collection of portraits: first, because of its inherent interest as the frontpiece of two important publications of Francis Bacon’s writings; and second, the digital image shown here is of exceptional clarity and detail, having been meticulously cleaned and repaired by Francis Bacon Society member, Gary Keegan.

The writer is also indebted to Gary for explaining that the 1640 Marshall engraving is not a copy as such, but an original work “with just a flavour from the de Passe.” Effectively, Marshall has reversed or “flipped” the figure in Simon van de Passe’s 1617 portrait to make a new engraving of Francis seated in a room in the act of writing. Only the head and shoulders are borrowed, the rest is pure Marshall. Peter Dawkins has made a short, illuminating study of Marshall’s engraved tribute to Bacon who had died only fourteen years earlier. It contains his translations of the Latin inscriptions and the significance of the words written on the pages of the open book. Peter also shows that the print reveals the secret of Francis Bacon’s royal birthright.