The title of Francis Bacon’s triptych refers to figures (often saints) that are portrayed at the foot of the cross in Christian paintings of the death of Jesus. Bacon said the figures in his work represented the Furies, ancient Greek goddess figures, who punished human wrongdoing. When the work was first shown publicly in April 1945, for some, it seemed to reflect the horror of the Holocaust, and the fear caused by the development of nuclear weapons.
Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion
FSC Certified paper and wood
Date of work
Original: Oil paint on 3 boards Each: 94 × 73.7 cm Tate. Presented by Eric Hall 1953 © Estate of Francis Bacon. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2023
Francis Bacon (1909 – 1992) was a British artist, celebrated for his figurative painting. Born to an English family in Dublin, although he received little formal artistic training in his early years, he is perceived to be one of the greatest painters since JMW Turner. His art was affected by many events of his life, from being thrown out of his home as a young man by his homophobic father, to losing a long term lover to suicide. His extensive back catalogue of works include themes of entrapment, sexual encounter and the haunting of death as well as ‘lighter’ paintings of animals and sphinxes. A large number of his works are held in the Tate collection.