Unauthenticated Francis Bacon works up for sale

An exhibition has gone on view in London selling ten works said to be by Francis Bacon but which have in the past been been seen as inauthentic by experts.

The Herrick Gallery is presenting the two pastel collages and eight graphite drawings as genuine works by Bacon, priced from £50,000 to £785,000 each. The works are purportedly from a body of around 600 drawings given by Bacon to his lover Cristiano Locatelli Ravarino, from 1977 up until the artist’s death in 1992. 

Alice Herrick, owner of the gallery, told The Art Newspaper that the drawings are owned by Ravarino but are in “temporary custody” with David Edwards, brother of another former lover of Bacon. She says that she believes that they are “by Bacon”, although she “cannot guarantee the authenticity of the drawings and pastels”.

Most Bacon experts believe that he never made drawings, and artworks from this collection have been a subject of debate in the past.

Martin Harrison, the author of the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Bacon paintings undertaken for the Francis Bacon Estate, has rejected the works and they will not be appearing in the publication.

In 2012, while acting as an expert witness in David Edwards’ bankruptcy case and the sale of Bacon drawings from his collection, Harrision described other drawings from the collection as “pastiches, or even parodies, and profoundly disrespectful of Bacon’s authentic body of work”. The judge concluded that they were “not authentic Francis Bacon drawings”, and that their estimated value was around £40 each.

The Herrick Gallery website acknowledges that there is debate surrounding whether or not Bacon did make drawings, contending that there is “extensive evidence that he did, but mischievously didn’t like the world to know”. It will be up to visitors to make up their mind.

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