Parisian period

From 1927, Bacon is closely acquainted with Paris, which he loves above all other cities. His first years spent in the French capital, with its intellectual excitement, sexual freedom and savoir-vivre, make a lasting mark on young Francis.

In 1974, he takes a studio-apartment at 14 rue de Birague, in the historic Marais district and deepens his friendship with Michel Leiris and Jacques Dupin. Sonia Orwell, who is part of Bacon’s circle of friends from the 1950s, helps introduce him to ‘Le Tout-Paris’ of artists and writers in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1975, he meets art historian Eddy Batache and art consultant Reinhard Hassert, who are to become two of his closest friends and confidants until the end of his life. On 19 January 1977, the Galerie Claude Bernard shows twenty recent works by the artist. This now-legendary show is so successful that the police have to cordon off the rue des Beaux-Arts to channel the crowds coursing towards the gallery. His exhibitions at Galerie Maeght-Lelong in 1984 and at Galerie Lelong in 1987 further cement Bacon’s living legend status in the city.

Bacon’s work captivates French intellectuals, writers and philosophers such as Gilles Deleuze, Michel Leiris, Gilbert Lascault and Jean Clair. Though he continues to visit the French capital until his death, Bacon leaves his Parisian studio in 1987.

According to John Edwards, he met Bacon in 1976. John Edwards becomes his companion, his surrogate son, the main subject in about twenty paintings and his sole heir.

© Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2012 / Anthony Bond / Eddy Batache

Francis Bacon at Galerie Lelong (1987)
Photo and © Michel Nguyen
MB Art Collection
Bacon in his studio at 14 rue de Birague, Paris (1979).
Photo and © Edward Quinn
MB Art Collection
Francis Bacon and Eddy Batache in Bacon’s studio, rue de Birague, Paris (July 1986)
Photo and © Reinhard Hassert
MB Art Collection
Francis Bacon at Galerie Maeght-Lelong (1984)
Photo and © Michel Nguyen
MB Art Collection
Francis Bacon in rue des Beaux-Arts, Paris (1977)
Photo and © John Minihan
MB Art Collection
Francis Bacon with Reinhard Hassert and Denis Wirth-Miller, Paris (November 1983).
Photo and © Eddy Batache
MB Art Collection
Francis Bacon and John Edwards in Paris (1980).
Photo and © Eddy Batache
MB Art Collection