Bacon, Francis. (1909–1992)

Roger Cornaille with Frankenstein - Original Photograph

An extraordinary and rare original photograph taken by the British artist known for his emotionally charged imagery, fixation on personal motifs, and experimentation. Dye diffusion transfer print, taken ca. 1975 by Francis Bacon at the celebrated Parisian bookstore Librairie Le Minotaure, the image depicts -  in a slightly blurred and unsettling fashion reminiscent of Bacon's painted oeuvre -  the store's owner Roger Cornaille engaging with a Frankenstein hand puppet.  The location and photographer are identified by the subject himself, a friend of the artist, in a handwritten caption on the verso: "Au Minotaure / vu par Francis Bacon!" The photograph is identified with the code on the verso "G511232," possibly establishing the date of film manufacture as July (G), [197]5 according to the dating of Polaroid's 7-digit codes. Some surface wear; overall very good. 4.25 x 3.5 inches (10.9 x 8.5 cm).  From the Collection of Denis Cholet, author of "Le Minotaure: souvenirs d'une librairie de Paris, 1948 - 1987." Archivally framed to an overall size of 11 x 14 inches.

Le Minotaur, founded in 1948 a few meters from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts et de la Seine, attracted an extraordinary mix of international celebrities of television and cinema, artists and scholars and was the site of important photography exhibitions by  Denise Colomb and Lucien Clergue, among others.  Under the store's publishing wing, Roger Cornaille issued the Revue Bizarre and the influential Gazette du Cinema and a number of books on art, including an early volume devoted to the graphic work of Victor Hugo. 

Francis Bacon famously found inspiration in photographs, film stills, and mass-media imagery and after his death thousands of photographic prints, magazine reproductions, scientific manuals, were found littered around his London studio.  Many were taken by photographer friends – notably John Deakin, his fellow denizen of Soho’s Colony Club, and the wildlife photographer Peter Beard – but he also culled a huge number from published sources and occasionally took photographs himself. For all his brilliant legacy of portraits, he only ever painted four sitters from life and the rest from photographs, this allowing him the space and time for behind the scenes planning.  Examples of Bacon's own photographs are reproduced in, among others,"In Camera - Francis Bacon: Photography, Film and the Practice of Painting" (Martin Harrison, 2005), but we trace no original examples of his photography ever appearing at auction or on the secondary market, all verified examples having evidently been retained by the Estate. The present photograph, with remarkable provenance, thus represents a unique opportunity for the collector. (17434)

Art & Design