Relocation of Francis Bacon's Studio

The Hugh Lane/Dublin City Gallery, Ireland


In 1998, the artist Francis Bacon's heir John Edwards, and Clarke, the sole executior Bacon's estate, donated the contents of Bacon's London studio to the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin. The studio at 7 Reece Mews, Kensington, had remained largely untouched since Bacon's death in 1992, and the decision was taken to preserve it for posterity. A team of archaeologists, art historians, conservators and curators moved the studio, wholesale, to Dublin. The locations of over 7,000 items were mapped, survey drawings made, the items packed and catalogued, and the studio was rebuilt, including the original doors, floor, walls and ceiling. In 2001 the relocated studio was opened to the public, with a fully comprehensive database, the first computerised record of the entire contents of an artist's studio.

"For thirty years Francis Bacon lived worked in Reece Mews, a former coach house located in a Victorian mews in the London borough of South Kensington. It was here where he produced many of his greatest paintings. Years after his death, the studio remained uninhabited and untouched exactly as he had left it. The flat was very simple. On the ground floor, were what used to be the stables, which had in recent times been used for storage. Upstairs, which was where he lived, was accessed by a very steeply inclined wooden staircase—rather like an Amsterdam house staircase—and you had to negotiate those stairs with the help of a rather greasy, thick rope, taking the role of a banister, up the side.

To the left of that, was a bedroom, with a table and chairs and a sofa, and his few books. Very simple; it reminded me of the kind of way that an ex-soldier, or a former prisoner might live. Simple, modest, very unassuming, very focused. Then, you crossed the landing, and there was this tiny but dense and intense room, with a window at either end and a skylight where he painted. And there was just enough room in the center of this topography of chaos for him to stand and paint the canvases. And that seemed to work for him very well. It was a very efficient little room for working in." – Brian Clarke, 2006