Francis Bacon at the BBC | The artist discusses his paintings and influences

Centurions | Francis Bacon: Innocent Scream

Why was a Velazquez portrait such an enduring source of inspiration for Francis Bacon?

CHANNEL | Radio 3

FIRST BROADCAST | 24 January 1999

DURATION | 14 minutes 18 seconds

FIRSTBROADCAST

1999

Synopsis

Although Bacon never actually saw the painting of Pope Innocent X, the many images he collected of it formed the basis for his series of 'screaming popes' paintings. The Velazquez original engendered a number of images that Bacon could use, reuse and combine with other elements to convey a powerful sense of rage and impotence at the human condition.

Did you know?

Among the images that Bacon collated for inclusion in the Pope paintings was a still taken from Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 film 'Battleship Potemkin'. The image is that of the screaming nurse from the famous Odessa steps sequence, and Bacon morphs the face onto that of Velazquez's Pope Innocent to create a powerful and disturbing image.

Contributors

Contributor
Helen Castell
Producer

Associated subjects

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Why was a Velazquez portrait such an enduring source of inspiration for Francis Bacon?

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