Francis Bacon’s Howling Pope Exhibition

LONDON, March 15 – A somber painting by Francis Bacon of a screaming pope, believed to be the first in his series of papal depictions, went on display in London on Tuesday, the first time the work has been on public display.

The Dublin-born artist created the canvas, known as ‘Landscape with Pope/Dictator’, in 1946 while living in Monaco.

It depicts a blurry, open-mouthed figure in a biretta, a traditional cap worn by Catholic clergy and wearing a politician’s usual attire of a shirt and tie. A microphone stands in front of him and below are flowers.

The Gagosian Art Gallery, which displays the work in its Davies Street gallery in London, said it was Bacon’s “first treatment of the papal image”.

“Here you have this kind of hybrid figure of a sort of papal clerical figure, but at the same time, dressed in a regular secular suit and tie,” said Richard Calvocoressi, director and curator of Gagosian Gallery. .

The Dublin-born artist created the canvas, known as ‘Landscape with Pope/Dictator’, in 1946 while living in Monaco.
Reuters

“So to merge these two authority figures…on the one hand the pope, on the other hand the dictator, the authoritarian figure is something that he pursued and pursued…for another 20 years, in coming back to this idea.”

The painting was recently discovered when British art historian and curator Martin Harrison compiled a catalog of Bacon’s work. The list was published in 2016.

“It was never in an exhibition. It entered a private collection in Italy in 1967 and this is truly its first public appearance since,” Calvocoressi said.

The painting is on display until April 23.

About Catharine C. Bean

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