Francis Bacon’s painting “Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X” from 1953 is a distorted version of Diego Velázquez’s portrait of the same name, created in around 1650. Velázquez’s portrait is renowned for its realism and accurate portrayal of an aging man. In contrast, Bacon’s painting depicts the ultimate despair and anguish of the post-war years.
Bacon experimented with new styles and subjects during the 1950s, and he was fixated on corporeal mutilation and militant atheism. He worked on variations of the Pope paintings for over twenty years. Bacon never saw the original portrait but preferred to work from reproductions. His painting shatters the image of authority and status embodied in Velázquez’s portrait.
It is also worth noting that Bacon’s work is often disparaging towards Christianity and religion. Overall, “Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X” represents Bacon’s unique artistic style and his interpretation of the post-war era, as well as his personal beliefs and obsessions.