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Sunday, 22 November, 1998, 12:45 GMT
Lost Bacons unearthed
Bacon photo
Francis Bacon: Once said he never made sketches
Oil sketches, drawings and collages by the late artist Francis Bacon, which have never been publicly seen before, are to be published in a British art magazine.

A friend of Bacon's says the artist gave him the collection shortly before his death.

But the Bacon estate claims the sketches are fakes and has threatened to take legal action if the Art Review does show them.

sketch showing brush strokes
One of the sketches showing brush strokes being rehearsed
The so-called lost works, numbering some 500 sketches and drawings, are currently kept in a bank by their owner Barry Joule who was Bacon's plumber and handyman.

He says Bacon gave them to him shortly before he died, saying: "You know what to do with these."

That, apparently, was Bacon's way of saying these are a gift.

The sketches reveal the rehearsal of brush strokes, lines and subject matter.

Not recognised

For the six years since Bacon's death, the works have been dismissed by experts.

As recently as six months ago the Institute for Contemporary Arts(ICA), in London, cancelled an exhibition of the works, because of lingering doubts about their authenticity.

Other galleries, such as the Tate have also ignored them taking the advice of the leading art historian and acknowledged Bacon authority, David Sylvester.

He has maintained that the Soho based artist did not use sketches.

These pictures have not been seen, possibly until now.

The Art Review's intent to publish them has forced the case with lawyers acting for the Bacon estate staking a copyright claim and thereby recognising them as genuine.

Legal battle looms

David Lee
David Lee: Let people decide if these are genuine
Nevertheless, the battle for ownership of these sketches has still to be fought with Bacons' last lover and sole heir, John Edwards, likely to contest Joule's right to them.

But the editor of the Art Review, David Lee, said the dispute over the ownership was not a matter for his magazine.

He felt it was important that one of the UK's most important artists of the 20th Century should be properly understood.

And although experts might argue about whether or not these works are genuine, he believes the public should be allowed to decide.

BBC News
BBC Arts Correspondent Rosie Millard: The pictures divide the art world
BBC News
Bernadette Kehoe reports on the Bacon debate
See also:

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