About Bacon's Books

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Bacon’s Books: Francis Bacon’s Library and its Role in his Art is an IRCHSS-funded joint project between Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane and the History of Art Department, Trinity College Dublin led by Yvonne Scott, Head of Department and Barbara Dawson, Director of Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane. As well as over 570 books found in Francis Bacon's studio,(known as Donation 1 see Margarita Cappock, Francis Bacon's Studio, 2005),  The Hugh Lane received from the Estate of Francis Bacon, a further donation of circa 670 books belonging to the artist. These books were located in the kitchen and bedroom of 7 Reece Mews and at Dale Farm in Suffolk, a property owned by Bacon but which he rarely used.This second donation has been  catalogued onto our database by Dr. Monika Keska, research associate on this project.  Bacon's Books now comprises over 1200 books, details of which are available for viewing online. As well as authors, titles of books and publishers, the cataloguing process  involved documentation of modifications made by the artist, such as pages removed, pigment accretions on pages and notations inside the books. Several of the loose pages found in the studio have been traced back to these books.

The painter Francis Bacon had a voracious interest in books, and his range of interests is evident in the substantial collection he amassed, on subjects as diverse as art history, literature, photography, history, politics, philosophy, cinema, sport, crime, medicine, languages, and travel. The personal library of an artist is widely recognised as an invaluable resource for understanding their work, and there is ample evidence that this was the case for Bacon. His studio was piled with books, and littered with loose leaves torn from them for reference. Evidence indicates that he plundered these for ideas and forms, both from the images and text, liberally interpreting them for his own purposes, and there is much remaining to be explored.

A symposium Bacon and his Books, presented by Barbara Dawson, Director of Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, and Yvonne Scott, Head of History of Art Department at Trinity College Dublin, was held on the 19 and 20 October 2012.