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© The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS 2021

Head VI, 1949

Francis Bacon (1909 – 1992)

Held at the threshold

  • Medium:
    Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:
    93.2 × 76.5 cm
  • Collection:
    Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London
  • Coll. No:
    AC 230

Head VI was inspired by 17th-century Spanish painter Diego Velazquez’s portrait of Pope Innocent X. Francis Bacon has distorted Velazquez’s portrait and the top half of the Pope’s face dissolves into the background, his mouth stretched in a scream suggesting agony. Bacon has enclosed the figure within a cage of straight white lines conveying a sense of claustrophobia. The figure seems unable to escape the confines of his enclosure and appears trapped, suggesting an ongoing and all-consuming psychological battle.