The Grand Palais retrospective
in Paris

A Francophone and an ardent Francophile, Bacon is as devoted to French culture in general as to its art. He looks to the French as the ultimate arbiters in virtually every domain that interests him. Bacon often admits that it is what the French think of his work that matters most to him.

His legendary retrospective at the Grand Palais, Paris, in October 1971, showing one hundred and eight Bacon works, probably affords him the greatest satisfaction of any of his exhibitions. Picasso is then the only other living artist who has received this honour, in 1966. The exhibition is a triumph, but tragedy strikes two days before the exhibition preview, on 24 October: his companion and muse George Dyer is found dead at the Hôtel des Saints Pères, where they are staying.

As a moving memorial to his lover’s death, Bacon paints three large triptychs in 1971, 1972 and 1973, known as the ‘Black Triptychs’.

Francis Bacon, In Memory of George Dyer (1971)
Bacon with Joan Miró and André Masson at the opening of the Grand Palais exhibition (26 October 1971).
Photo and © André Morain
MB Art Collection
Michel Leiris and Isabel Rawsthorne at the exhibition opening dinner at the Train Bleu restaurant (26 October 1971).
Photo and © André Morain
MB Art Collection
Preview of the Francis Bacon retrospective at the Grand Palais (26 October 1971). From left to right: Bernard Anthonioz, Francis Bacon, Gaston Palewski, Jacques Duhamel, Reynold Arnould, Blaise Gautier and Jacques Rigaud.
Photo and © André Morain
MB Art Collection
John Russell, Denis Wirth-Miller and Erica Brausen at the exhibition opening dinner at the Train Bleu restaurant (26 October 1971).
Photo and © André Morain
MB Art Collection
Bacon and Valerie Beston in front of the Grand Palais (26 October 1971).
Photo and © André Morain
MB Art Collection
Francis Bacon and George Dyer
MB Art Collection
Hôtel des Saints Pères, Paris (2013)
MB Art Collection