Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X
Study after Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X.jpg
Artist Francis Bacon
Year 1953
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 153 cm × 118 cm (60 in × 46 in)
Location Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa

Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X is a 1953 painting by the artist Francis Bacon. The work shows a distorted version of the Portrait of Innocent X painted by Spanish artist Diego Velázquez in 1650. The work is one of a series of over 45 variants of the Velázquez painting which Bacon executed throughout the 1950s and early 1960s.[1] The picture was described by Gilles Deleuze as an example of creative re-interpretation of the classical.

When asked why he was compelled to revisit the subject so often, Bacon replied that he had nothing against the Popes, that he merely sought "an excuse to use these colours, and you can't give ordinary clothes that purple colour without getting into a sort of false fauve manner".[2]

Although Bacon avoided seeing the original, the painting remains the single greatest influence on him; its presence can be seen in many of his best works from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. In Bacon's version of Velázquez's masterpiece, the Pope is shown screaming yet his voice is "silenced" by the enclosing drapes and dark rich colors. The dark colors of the background lend a grotesque and nightmarish tone to the painting.[3] The pleated curtains of the backdrop are rendered transparent and appear to fall through the representation of the Pope's face.[4]


  1. ^ Schmied, 17
  2. ^ Peppiatt, 147
  3. ^ Schmied, 20
  4. ^ Peppiatt, 148


  • Davies, Hugh & Yard, Sally, Francis Bacon. (New York) Cross River Press. ISBN 0-89659-447-5
  • Peppiatt, Michael. Anatomy of an Enigma. Westview Press, 1996. ISBN 0-8133-3520-5
  • Schmied, Wieland. Francis Bacon: Commitment and Conflict. Munich: Prestel, 1996. ISBN 3-7913-1664-8