28 October 2017

Francis Bacon's 'insanely eccentric' home commemorated with blue plaque

The painter's blue plaque was unveiled at his home and studio in South Kensington, on what would have been his birthday.

A head shot black and white photograph of Francis Bacon. © Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

© Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

The South Kensington home and studio of one of the most significant artists of the 20th century, Francis Bacon, has been commemorated with a blue plaque.

Bacon moved to the converted Victorian coach house in London, at 7 Reece Mews, in 1961. He kept a studio on the first floor, which became the most important room in his life. It was also his main home and studio until his death in 1992.

His home has been described as 'insanely eccentric' and even Bacon admitted he kept his studio as 'kind of a dump'.

Bacon's home and studio in South Kensington.

Bacon's home and studio in South Kensington.

One of the 'greatest figurative painters' of the century

Soon after moving to Reece Mews, Bacon completed his first large-scale triptych, a set of three artistic panels, which he called Three Studies for a Crucifixion, in 1962.

Several of his most significant pieces of work followed, including Portrait of George Dyer Talking in 1966 and other portraits.

Philip Mould, a member of the English Heritage Blue Plaques Panel, said:

'Francis Bacon tore up the way we view the human figure and rates as one of the greatest figurative painters of the twentieth century. London was the city where he made his most important artistic breakthroughs and we are delighted to honour him at this tiny studio-home, where he created many of his masterpieces.'

Bacon's cluttered studio

Bacon's studio in the 1980s. © The Estate of Francis Bacon.

A place of creative chaos

The chaotic nature of Bacon's studio has become legendary. He painted test colours on the wall and his studio was littered with used paint tubes, jars, paintbrushes, tin cans, pieces of fabric, cans of spray paint and empty bottles of turpentine.

Author and broadcaster, Melvyn Bragg, who knew Bacon well and interviewed him at Reece Mews said:

'It's a great idea to put up a blue plaque for Francis Bacon at the idiosyncratic, almost insanely eccentric, tiny upstairs flatlet in which he did some of his finest work. I'm sure he would have loved it.'

When interviewed by Bragg on The South Bank Show in 1985, Bacon said of his house:

'It's kind of a dump that nobody else would want but I can work here. I work much better in chaos. I couldn't work if it was a beautifully tidy studio, it would be absolutely impossible for me... chaos for me breeds images.'

Six years after he died, Bacon's studio and its entire contents including the walls, doors, floor and ceiling were removed and recreated in The Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin. This was the city Bacon was born in 1909.

Today 7 Reece Mews is in the care of The Estate of Francis Bacon.

Find out more about Francis Bacon by visiting our blue plaques page.

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Part of Bacon's Three Studies for a Crucifixion

Part of Bacon's Three Studies for a Crucifixion, 1962, Left © The Estate of Francis Bacon.

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