Few painters have defined the post–World War II era with its existential loathing better than Francis Bacon, the brilliant son of an Irish horse trainer. His breakthrough came with a 1945 triptych, ostensibly a Crucifixion but more properly described as ghouls gathered around a spectacle of human degradation.
Bars and railings, as in Study for Nude, separate the incarcerated subject from the curious spectator. His scenes appear airless and contained within imaginary glass walls. The artist's asthmatic condition may have contributed to the aura of suffocation that weighs down these voyeuristic nightmares. The sources for Bacon's pictures are surprisingly diverse. He borrowed from Eisenstein's movie stills, Velázquez's court scenes, and Joyce's meandering writings, as well as from medical textbooks, the tabloids, and Muybridge's photographic experiments in motion.
Artist Francis Bacon, English, 1910-1992
  • Study for Crouching Nude
Date 1952
Medium oil and sand on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 78 × 54 inches (198.1 × 137.2 cm)
Framed: 85 3/8 × 61 1/2 × 3 7/8 inches (216.9 × 156.2 × 9.8 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Dr. Wilhelm R. Valentiner
Accession Number 55.353
Department Contemporary Art after 1950
Not On View
Hanover Gallery (London, England);
William Valentiner;
1955-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Alley, R. Francis Bacon. London, 1964, no.37, p.56 (ill.).

Masterpieces of Art in Memory of W.R. Valentiner. North Carolina Museum of Art. Raleigh, 1959, supplement 68. [not in exhibition]

Bulletin of the DIA 36, 1 (1956): pp. 16-17, (ill.).

Russell, J. Francis Bacon. Greenwich, CT., 1971.

Gale, Matthew, and Chris Stephens, eds. FRANCIS BACON. Tate Gallery. London, 2008, pp. 43, 107, 110, 118, 166, 167.

Gale, Matthew and Chris Stephens. FRANCIS BACON. Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2009, pp. 23, 43, 49, 118, 122-123, 130, 165, 178, 179.

Francis Bacon. The National Museum of Modern Art. Tokyo, 2013: p.28-29 (ill.).