Francis Bacon's Three Studies of Lucien Freud could smash artist record

Francis Bacon's Three Studies of Lucien Freud (1969) is to highlight Christie's November 12 auction of Post-War and Contemporary Art in New York.

The triptych, painted 25 years after Bacon and Freud met, stands as a testament to the uneasy creative relationship between the two painters.

It is expected to break the previous record for work by Bacon, which was $86m - set in 2008 for Triptych, 1976.

Bacon Freud triptych
Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud painted a series of portraits of each other

Francis Outred, Christie's head of post-war and contemporary art, commented: "We are honoured to announce the sale of an undeniable icon of twentieth century art.

"A conversation between two masters of 20th century figurative painting, Francis Bacon's triptych, Three Studies of Lucian Freud, executed in 1969 is a true masterpiece that marks Bacon and Freud's relationship, paying tribute to the creative and emotional kinship between the two artists.

"The juxtaposition of radiant sunshine yellow contrasting with the brutal physicality and immediacy of the brushstrokes in this celebrated life-size triptych is what makes Bacon's art so remarkable."

The work is one of only two triptychs of Freud painted by Bacon. The other, Three Studies for a Portrait of Lucian Freud, was made in preparation for this larger effort and sold for $23m ($36.7m) in 2011.

The three canvases were separated during the 1970s, before being brought together again in the 1980s.

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