Behind the £35m sale of an iconic portrait lies the colourful tale writes RICHARD KAY

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Like all the good feuds, they started with a snowstorm of mutual praise — even passion — it was wondering if some of London’s bohemian circles had a romance Frisson in their friendship. ..

But it was art, not gender, that attracted Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon to each other. The bacon thrown out of his family’s house when he found his father wearing his mother’s clothes was childless and gay. Freud, meanwhile, admitted 14 children, but she could have had as many as 40 children, and she was an avid female pursuit.

Both men had a tremendous appetite for a good life. For over 30 years, the two have been inseparable, drinking, compassionate, gambling (bacon roulette, Freud’s horse racing) at roughfish Soho bars and clubs, and each other’s company. I was sunbathing in.

And, of course, they were painting each other — in fact Freud sat for bacon more than 18 times.

Freud’s second wife, Lady Caroline Blackwood, said she “almost every night had dinner with bacon during almost every marriage to Lucian-we also had lunch.” Was their intimacy. The marriage probably lasted only four years, probably inevitably.

Freud remembered seeing bacon at some point, virtually every day for a quarter of a century.

The pair scrutinized each other’s work. As Bacon said: “Who can you break apart if you’re not my friend?”

Alas, over time, this fierce competition has consumed their friendships, and their mutual respect for each other has fallen into envy, resentment, and hatred.

The sale of Bacon’s 1964 work “Study for the Portrait of Lucian Freud” at the end of this month is expected to hit £ 35 million at auction, telling the story of one of the greatest saga in the art world. Was rekindled.

It’s a moving and colorful story, like any of the masterpieces produced by both men. It also followed a noble artistic tradition.

Van Gogh and Gauguin also became friends and enemies, and when their relationship ended, the Dutch cut off their ears.

A Study for the Portrait of Lucian Freud’, Portrait Painting by Lucian Freud Artist Francis Bacon

Even if the toxic feud between Freud and Bacon does not go down to such a horrifying level, it does not undermine Britain’s greatest post-war artist Turner and their official position as police officers of the era. was.

No two artists have worked as hard to invigorate figurative paintings as Freud and Bacon. Both lived to see their work sell for millions of pounds.

Such status and wealth must have seemed distant when they first met on a dangerous street in Ruche, Soho, which was bombed in the mid-1940s.

Freud, a junior of Bacon, respected an older man who embodied the spirit of the aristocrat and gave a thrilling example of how to live an artist’s life.

In the background, there was no more difference. Born in 1909 to wealthy Irish British parents whose father trained racehorses, Bacon had no formal education due to severe asthma. His childhood was confused, especially because of his abusive father. He once ordered a stable boy to whip.

After spending a decadent time in Paris and Berlin, he arrived in London in 1930 and found a job as a gentleman’s gentleman, but his master was eating at Ritz’s next table. I was dismissed after seeing.

As one biographer pointed out, the flashy bacon “can be found in the gutters or Ritz and was at home in both.”

Later, even when he was recognized as Britain’s best painter for 150 years and his work sold millions of dollars, Bacon traveled by bus, the same as he had for years. I didn’t like to live in a muse house.

For some time he lived an unstable life as a furniture and rug designer, but began painting seriously until the end of World War II.

Self-taught, his work showed considerable technical ability and originality that swept the art world. Still, he was his own toughest critic, destroying more canvas than he survived during that period.

Freud was born in Germany in 1922, grew up in Berlin in the midst of rising Nazism, and studied at an art school. As the grandson of Sigmund Freud, a Jew and the founder of psychoanalysis hated by the Nazis, he had to be accompanied by a bodyguard with a private school.

The family fled to England and Lucian was sent to Bryanston Public School in Dorset. He was banished for dropping his pants at Bournemouth.

However, there were other domestic similarities with bacon. He was lifelong estranged from his brother Clement, a former Liberal Party member on the air station, and was rich in reconciliation with his brother Stephen.

After a war service in the Merchant Navy, he began painting full-time in his early twenties.

Like bacon, Freud was drawn to Soho’s taverns, illegal bettors, and dubious sex parlors. Both loved that golden squalor.

At Bacon, Freud found a teacher not only in art but also in life. From him he learned about the best wines, dishes and tailoring. They spent a lot of time in the Gargoyle Club and later in the Colony Room, drinking and discussing with philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. But usually they prefer to be alone and, if possible, exclude others.

For many, this self-attachment was intolerable, and rumors spread that the pair was sleeping together. The biographer suggests that this friendship had a “quasi-erotic tone”, but it was “sensual” rather than sexual.

Freud’s daughter Annie said her father described Bacon as “having the most sensual forearms.” .. .. It’s like a lover. “

The two were rarely separated — breakfast at Smithfield Market’s working man’s cafe, lunch at Wheelers on Old Compton Street, and drinking at the colony.

For over 30 years, the two have been inseparable, gambling at roughfish Soho bars and clubs, sunbathing at each other's company on bacon roulette and Freud's horse trucks. I did.Photo: Friends Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud by Harry Diamond

For over 30 years, the two have been inseparable, gambling at roughfish Soho bars and clubs, sunbathing at each other’s company on bacon roulette and Freud’s horse trucks. I did.Photo: Friends Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud by Harry Diamond

Many of them were something they were proud of, remembering their friends.

Then there was gambling: both men were reckless. At one point Freud lost everything he owned, including his own car. His car was taken back to his house for sale in the garage and the proceeds were deposited on the horse.

Bacon was similarly arrogant, throwing money at people and buying extravagant drinks. He would say: “Champagne for my real friends-real pain for my fake friends.”

In 1949, they joined the White Tailball, where the ingenious Princess Margaret took a microphone and began singing the eccentric Cole Porter classic Let’s Do It. Bacon, standing with Freud, began booing and hiss, and the red-faced Margaret escaped in the middle of the song with her waiting woman. Freud declared that his friend was the most fearless man he had ever met and was “the wildest and smartest”.

They painted in the same tradition, but their methods were very different. Freud preferred to show the body of a woman who was wrinkled by age and imperfections. The distorted portrait of bacon captured the peculiar horror of modern life.

When Lucian first sat down on bacon in 1951, he was fascinated by Bacon’s hasty and voluntary approach. Bacon, sitting in Freud the following year, was surprised at how long it took the young man to paint. This portrait was stolen from a gallery in Berlin in 1988.

However, their sexual tendencies were very different. Both male muses, Henrietta Moraes, were portrayed and pleased by Freud — for Bacon, beauty was a sitting and drinking companion.

Freud was outraged by his friend’s tastes in a violent male deal and couldn’t understand his relationship with George Dyer, the family hanger of the Clay crime gang. Bacon liked villains and wasn’t sexually afraid when gays involved in the act could still be imprisoned.

Bacon did not allow Freud to hob with the aristocrats. However, Freud relied on this “luxury trade” because of his portrait and the ruthless candidness provided by the upper class.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Freud was less successful and was considered by the sneaky art world to be Bacon’s “pet.” But with Freud’s first major show in 1969, everything changed.

Suddenly, Freud noticed that the psychophants around Bacon were tired, but Bacon was fed up with Freud’s refusal to accept all sorts of “duties.” They were also impatient with each other’s sexual obsessions.

Francis became “bitter and stupid” towards his former disciple.When her rift opened, Bacon cruelly observed his former friend:’She [Freud’s] He left me all this time, and she had all these kids just to prove she wasn’t gay.

Freud, now a much more substantive person, limited his public remarks to criticism of Bacon’s art. “Ghastly,” he talked about his work since the 1980s.

The problem came to mind when Freud accepted the honor — both men had previously turned down CBE. However, Freud accepted the CH — Companion of Honor — and later became an OM member of the Order of Merit. Bacon said: “I want to enter this world as Mr. Bacon and leave as Mr. Bacon.”

They met occasionally in the 1980s, but their encounter was interrupted by longer silence than ever before. At one point Freud called Bacon at his home. The conversation ended with a red-faced Francis slamming the receiver and shaking the wall violently.

A few years later, and shortly before his death in 1992, Bacon was having breakfast at a restaurant in London. It was when Freud passed the table without stopping. Bacon sadly observed: “That’s the way things are.”

Freud, who lived 19 years longer than his former friends, had other feuds with his lovers, friends and agents. Although he had no close relationship with her bacon, he left one of his paintings hanging on the wall of his bedroom until his death.

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