Study After Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X (1953) by Francis Bacon

Study After Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X - Francis Bacon - 1953

Artwork Information

TitleStudy After Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X
ArtistFrancis Bacon
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions60 1/4 x 46 1/2 in (153 x 118.1 cm)
Art MovementExpressionism
Current LocationDes Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA, US

About Study After Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X

The artwork entitled “Study After Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X” was created by Francis Bacon in the year 1953. This expressive piece is an oil on canvas, contributing to the Expressionist movement. The painting portrays a symbolic and dramatic reinterpretation of an earlier portrait by Diego Velázquez. Its significant dimensions measure approximately 60 1/4 inches by 46 1/2 inches (153 cm by 118.1 cm). Currently, the painting is housed within the esteemed collection of the Des Moines Art Center in Des Moines, Iowa, United States.

The artwork plunges the viewer into a maelstrom of emotional intensity and psychological depth. It features a distorted and semi-abstract representation of a seated figure, reminiscent of the historical figure, Pope Innocent X, yet uniquely reimagined through Bacon’s lens. The figure appears trapped within a cage-like structure, depicted by bold, linear elements that frame the central character. The use of dark, brooding colors along with streaks and splatters adds to the eerie and haunted depiction, confronting the spectator with the themes of power, isolation, and human vulnerability.

Bacon’s application of thick impasto and his loose, vigorous brushwork contribute to the raw and unsettling quality of the portrait. The deep shadows and aggressive highlights reinforce the unsettling environment, blurring the lines between realism and abstraction. At the same time, the physical presence of the sitter is palpable, with an almost tangible weight and substance that anchors the psychological intensity of the piece.

In summary, this iconic work exemplifies Bacon’s fascination with the human condition and his ability to translate that into a compelling visual narrative, brutally honest, and palpable in its emotional resonance.

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