'£20m' painting owned by Leicester council being kept in storage

By Hannah Richardson & Tom Oakley
Local Democracy Reporting Service

  • Published
Lying Figure No 1 by Francis BaconImage source, Leicester Museums and Galleries
Image caption,
Lying Figure No 1 was formerly showcased at the Leicester Museum and Art Gallery

A "£20m" painting claimed to be the most valuable in Leicester's public should not be hidden in storage, a councillor said.

Lying Figure No1 by Francis Bacon used to be on display at the Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, but it is not currently on show.

Nigel Porter, Liberal Democrat councillor, questioned why such a work was "sitting in a basement".

The council blamed limits on space and said it would eventually reappear.

"I think a lot of people would like to see it," said Mr Porter at a scrutiny meeting.

"It's a very valuable, very important painting and I'm sure a lot of people would visit Leicester just to come and look at it. It must be the most valuable painting we have got in the museum.

"Rather than having this £20m painting stuck in some basement, what harm would there be to put it on display and have it back where it was?"

Image source, John Deakin
Image caption,
Francis Bacon's Lying Figure No1 dates back to 1959

British artist Bacon died in 1992 and his works have been selling for huge sums, reports the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

In 2013, his Three Studies of Lucien Freud sold for $142.4m in New York, while another piece of his called Seated Figure sold for $40m in 2014.

Leicester's mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, said the Labour-controlled council had many valuable paintings in its collection and cannot have them all on display at the same time.

"Down to the generosity of previous generations, we have an astonishingly large collection of very important artwork," he said.

"It is inevitably the case that, compared to the scale of the collection, we have a limited amount of wall space on which to hang them.

"If it is the case that the Bacon is not in display at the moment, I can assure [Mr Porter] that it will be safely in storage and will be on display in rotation as time passes."

Follow BBC East Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, or on Instagram. Send your story ideas to eastmidsnews@bbc.co.uk.

Around the BBC

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.