Second Version of Triptych 1944

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Second Version of Triptych 1944
Second Version of Triptych 1944.jpg
ArtistFrancis Bacon
TypeOil and acrylic on canvas
Dimensions198 cm × 148 cm (78 in × 58 in)
LocationTate Britain, London

Second Version of Triptych 1944 is a 1988 triptych painted by the Irish-born artist Francis Bacon. It is a reworking of Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, 1944, Bacon's most widely known triptych, and the one which established his reputation as one of England's foremost post-war painters.

Bacon often painted second versions of his major paintings, including Painting (1946), which he reworked in 1971 when the original became too fragile to transport to exhibitions.[1] In 1988, Bacon completed this near copy of the Three Studies. At 78 × 58 inches, this second version is over twice the size of the original, while the orange background has been replaced by a blood-red hue. His reason for creating this rework remain unclear, although Bacon told Richard Cook that he "always wanted to make a larger version of the first [Three Studies...]. I thought it could come off, but I think the first is better. I would have had to use the orange again so as to give a shock, that which red dissolves. But the tedium of doing it perhaps dissuaded me, because mixing that orange with pastel and then crushing it was an enormous job."[2]

The figures occupy a proportionally smaller space on the canvas than in the 1944 version, a presentation that, according to the Tate Gallery's catalogue, "plung[es] them into a deep void".[3] Critical opinion was mixed and the triptych drew criticism from those who felt that its more refined painting technique robbed the image of much of its power.[4] Denis Farr suggested that while the second version's larger scale gave it "a majestic quality which is highly effective", its svelte presentation lessened its shock value.[1] Critic Jonathan Meades felt that though the 1988 triptych was a more polished and painterly work, it lacked the rawness of the original.[5]


  1. ^ a b Farr; Peppiatt; Yard, 217
  2. ^ Cook, Richard. "Le portrait modern en Grande Bretange". Artstudio, Paris, 21, Summer 1991. 50-57
  3. ^ "Second Version of Triptych 1944 1988". Tate Gallery display caption, November 2005. Retrieved on 27 April 2007.
  4. ^ Hyman, James. "Francis Bacon - A Life in Paint". James Hyman Fine Art, 2002. Retrieved on 27 April 2007
  5. ^ Meades, Jonathan. "Raw, Embarrassing, Nihilistic". New Statesman, 6 February 1998.


  • Farr, Dennis; Peppiatt, Michael; Yard, Sally. Francis Bacon: A Retrospective. Harry N Abrams, 1999. ISBN 0-8109-2925-2

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