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Study for a Portrait of Van Gogh IV (1957)

Francis Bacon

oil on canvas

Tate, London, Liverpool and St Ives

Study for a Portrait of Van Gogh IV (1957)

© The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS 2024. Photo credit: Tate





Oil, Canvas


152.4 x 116.8 (support) cm

Accession Number:



Presented by the Contemporary Art Society (R. J. Sainsbury Discretionary Fund), 1958

Ownership history:

Purchased from the artist at the Hanover Gallery, London by the Contemporary Art Society, with the R. J. Sainsbury Discretionary Settlement Fund, 1957 (for £400); presented to the Tate Gallery, 1958


Portraits, Figures
Bacon based his picture on a self-portrait by Vincent Van Gogh which he knew only from photographs as it had been destroyed in WW2. Bacon empathised with the idea of the artist as lonely genius. He had probably recently seen Vincente Minelli’s film Lust for Life (1956), starring Kirk Douglas as Van Gogh, that had been released in London not long before his exhibition at the Hanover Gallery, at which the Contemporary Art Society purchased this study.

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