Francis Bacon

Studies for a Portrait

Michael Peppiatt

View Inside Price: $37.50

November 18, 2008
272 pages, 6 x 9
17 b/w + 18 colour illus.
ISBN: 9780300142556

One of the most elusive and enigmatic creative geniuses of modern times, Francis Bacon was a man of endless contradictions and facets. In this invaluable book Michael Peppiatt, a major art critic and close friend of Bacon’s, offers an entertaining and uniquely well-informed portrait of this complex artist.


Peppiatt’s collection of interviews and essays spans more than forty years—from 1963, when the two men met, to 2007, when Peppiatt wrote an essay explaining Bacon’s passionate involvement with Van Gogh. The pieces in between include discussions of Bacon’s working methods and techniques, his unlikely relationship with his London dealer, his attitude toward Christian belief and classical myth, and his defining friendship with the eminent French writer Michel Leiris. Peppiatt also provides fascinating anecdotes about the artist’s early life, his intimate relationships, and his connections with the artists who were his contemporaries and friends. In addition, among the interviews reproduced for the book are new transcripts of two interviews presenting previously omitted material that brings out many little-known aspects of Bacon’s presence and personality.


Michael Peppiatt is the leading authority on Francis Bacon. He has written the definitive biography of the artist and curated several influential exhibitions of his work.

"Peppiatt . . . submits a collection of essays and interviews spanning his career of writing on the artist. . . . Each piece describes a different period in Bacon's life, a theme in the work, influences or significant companions. As each topic is inscribed with the biographical essentials, the motifs stand out in relief from the background details. The book gains a certain rhythm as the portrait is made simultaneously more simple and more complex. The effect, cast in Peppiatt's intimate reportage, works well, and the book will enrich the library of any Bacon enthusiast."—Publishers Weekly

"Peppiatt writes perceptively about Bacon’s endlessly contradictory nature, his generosity and cruelty, his violence and tenderness, his dandyism and love of squalor, his spectacular dissipation and iron self-discipline, and what he called his 'exhilarated despair'." —  Lewis Jones, Daily Telegraph

‘Peppiatt’s new book … contains interviews with and recollections of the artist from the 1960s almost until his death … includ[ing] the full, fascinating text of Bacon’s answers when he was interviewed for the first time by his future biographer, in 1963, before celebrity began to overtake some of his responses.’ - Alan Jenkins, Times Literary Supplement

‘Peppiatt’s ability to grasp his elusive subject is firmly underpinned by a formidable amount of first-hand knowledge. Much of this is disclosed in his Francis Bacon: Studies for a Portrait, a stimulating new collection of interviews and essays that reveal even more about this multi-faceted, inexhaustible, tormented and fundamentally mysterious individual.’ - Richard Cork, Art Quarterly

"Peppiatt's book offers valuable insight and firsthand commentary on the enigmatic brilliance of Francis Bacon. . . . Highly recommended." —T. L. Wilson, Choice

Selected as a best book about photography and art for 2008 by Alan G. Artner of the Chicago Tribune