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Friday, 5 May, 2000, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Unseen Bacon goes under hammer
A portrait by Francis Bacon, which was lost to the public for 40 years, is expected to fetch £1.8m at auction next month.
The picture, entitled Study for Portrait (Man Screaming), has not been seen in public since it vanished into a private collection in 1962.
It was painted as part of Bacon's celebrated series of portrait heads 10 years earlier.
"This is a tremendously exciting work last seen by the public some 40 years ago," said Christie's spokesman Brett Gorvy, whose 20th Century Art team tracked down the painting.
"The remarkable work portrays a tormented, almost bestial man screaming into the face of the viewer."
Until recently, the privately-owned work was known to collectors only in the form of a black and white photograph published in the artist's catalogue raisonne, which is available in high street shops.
It is expected to go under the hammer at Christie's in London on 28 June, nearly a year after the auction house sold three self-portraits by the artist for £1,871,500.
He dealt with themes of death and decay and his style has often been called existentialist.
The portrait study was painted at the height of Bacon's famous Pope series of works, which alternated between presenting images of the Roman Catholic pontiff and an anonymous politician/business figure.
It embodies many of Bacon's key obsessions in the image of a screaming mouth at its centre.
This powerful concept is known to have affected the artist earlier in his life when he became transfixed by a book about diseases in the mouth.