Francis Bacon's raunchy portrait of Henrietta Moraes at auction next month

The auction will take place on 14th February. Francis Outred, Christie's Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Europe said:
‘Searing with raw colour and texture, Portrait of Henrietta Moraes is one of the most seductive and sexually charged paintings I have ever encountered by Francis Bacon. The carefully constructed mood through colour is forcefully invaded by the extraordinary swipes of the loaded brush, which create the woman’s voluptuous figure. This juxtaposition of the sheer beauty of colour with the brutal physicality of paint is what makes Bacon’s art so remarkable.

Executed in 1963, this painting was undertaken in a landmark year, which saw the artist perfect his technique. It followed a period of intense experimentation in which Bacon investigated the properties of paint and the architecture of the human form. This turning point is widely acknowledged; 3 out of the 7 large-scale paintings created in 1963 now form parts of major international museum collections including The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art Humlebæk, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff and the Tate Gallery, London. In the same year, Bacon also created a small-scale triptych Three Studies for Portrait of Henrietta Moraes (1963) currently held in the Museum of Modern Art.

In a similar manner to the MoMA painting, Portrait of Henrietta Moraes is built up from a ground of papal red, which acts as a silhouette both in image and metaphor. The work has only had two owners since the day it was made, one of which was the important collector and post-War industrialist Willy Schniewind and the other being the present owner, a distinguished New Yorker who acquired the work in 1983. Portrait of Henrietta Moraes has not been seen in the public eye for fifteen years and I am very excited to be presenting this important piece of British art in London’.