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Study for Bullfight No. 1, 1969

This extraordinary painting symbolizes Bacon wrestling with artistic desire. Here, he is battling the demons that occupy his violent subconscious. The painting was completed while he was using space at the Royal College of Art in London in 1969 and was acquired from Galerie Beyeler in 1987.

Bacon had an enduring fascination with bullfighting, a subject he first addressed in 1969 and returned to a handful of times until 1987 when he made his only triptych on the theme. Bacon's introduction to bullfighting was probably through the writings of his great friend, the French surrealist Michel Leiris, who died a year before Bacon completed his final painting, Study of a Bull, in 1991. Bacon died shortly thereafter.

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