7 Reece Mews
In 1998, John Edwards, Bacon's sole heir, generously donated the entire contents of Francis Bacon's studio at 7 Reece Mews to The Hugh Lane. This remarkable donation is the most important received by the Gallery since it was established by Sir Hugh Lane in 1908. Its relocation and compilation of a database of the entire contents of over 7,500 items was one of the most ambitious projects undertaken by a museum or gallery.
Francis Bacon lived and worked in 7 Reece Mews, South Kensington, London from 1961 until his death in 1992. The studio / residence was one of a short row of converted coach houses on a quiet cobble-stoned lane. The house was small and utilitarian in layout. The ground floor was almost entirely occupied by a large garage where Bacon kept surplus items from the studio. An extremely steep wooden staircase, with a rope for a handrail, led to a landing. On the left was Bacon's spartan bed-living room. Ahead was an eccentric kitchen-cum-bathroom. To the right was the studio, the most important room in the artist's life. Bacon said himself of his cluttered studio, "I feel at home here in this chaos because chaos suggests images to me." Bacon rarely painted from life and the heaps of torn photographs, fragments of illustrations, books, catalogues, magazines and newspapers provided nearly all of his visual sources. Some of the most significant studio items include seventy works on paper and one hundred slashed canvases. The vast array of artist's materials, household paint pots, used and unused paint tubes, paint brushes, cut-off ends of corduroy trousers and cashmere sweaters record the diversity of Bacon's techniques. It is from here that Bacon's stature grew into that of the pre-eminent figurative painter of the late 20th century. While Bacon occasionally looked for a new, grander place to work, he continually returned to this awkward but familiar room.