Bacon's Study for Head of Lucian Freud valued at $20m

The creative genius of Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Roald Dahl will combine at Christie's on July 1 in London, as Bacon's Study for the Head of Lucian Freud comes to auction.

Francis Bacon Head of Lucian Freud
Bacon and Freud were friends and rivals, continually painting portraits of each other

The work, which has been owned by Roald Dahl and the Dahl family since its creation, has never appeared at auction until now, coming at a time when the market for Francis Bacon couldn't be more buoyant.

A study for the work that set the record for a work of art sold at auction in November, Study for the Head of Lucian Freud is estimated at £8m-12m ($13.3m-20m). It is one of only two single portrait heads of Lucian Freud ever painted.

"All I can tell you about the work of Francis Bacon is that it stirs and excites me emotionally. This is surely how the work of any painter should be judged.

"I can see no other valid way of assessing a painting's worth. No paintings stir and excite me quite as much as those of Francis Bacon.

"I know that there are some people who are not moved by them at all and to those unfortunates I would simply say, 'Jolly back luck. I can't help you.'" Dahl once commented.

Dahl and Bacon became good friends in the 1960s and 1970s, sharing a love of Van Gogh in visits to Dahl's famous Gipsy House.

The painting was created at a time when both were at their creative peaks, with Bacon's love affair with George Dyer in full swing and Dahl having recently published Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Part of the proceeds from the sale will go toward continuing Dahl's philanthropic work, benefitting Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity, which helps seriously ill young people, as well as the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre.

No major art auction at Christie's is complete without a challenger from Sotheby's, and the Francis Bacon sale will not disappoint - Sotheby's offers a triptych of George Dyer at $33.5m in London on June 30.

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