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Francis Bacon’s Portraits from Life

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Date: c.1610 Artist: William Larkin (c.1580 – 1619)
Location: Private Collection
Medium: oil on canvas
Provenance: unknown
Image credit: Bridgeman Images

“Larkin’s works are the most glorious example of the Tudor/Jacobean portrait, and they encapsulate both the pinnacle and the end of an era – although they also contain hints of what is soon to come”. (B. Barrington, Apollo Magazine, 9 May, 2019) This picture is the earliest formal portrait we have of Francis Bacon. It was the first of two portraits of Francis by William Larkin, and is believed to have once been a full-length composition before being cut down to three-quarter length proportions. Painted in the same year that Lady Anne Bacon died, this remarkable portrait shows forty-nine year old Francis when he was in the midst of secretly editing and refining the monumental King James Bible. When Francis Bacon commissioned William Larkin to paint his portrait, Larkin was in his late-twenties and had not yet achieved a reputation as a renowned portraitist of members of the English aristocracy. Forty-two of his portraits have survived.