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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
Chance to enjoy Bacon paintings
Francis Bacon
Bacon was known for destroying many of his paintings
An exhibition of work by Irish painter Francis Bacon has opened in Norwich.

The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts is offering a rare opportunity for people to see 50 paintings from public and private collections across the world.

Bacon, who died in 1992, was known for destroying many of his paintings while they were still works in progress.

The exhibition will feature Study of a Pope which was rescued by Sir Robert and Lady Sainsbury after being slashed with a razor.

'Outstanding painter'

Bacon referred to the imaginary portrait of Pope Pius XII as a "wonderful picture" while chatting to the Sainsburys at a party.

They offered him a lift home so that they could see the work, but when they arrived at his studio, Bacon slashed the painting with a razor.

The Sainsburys pleaded with him to do no more damage, rolled it up and took it home.

The exhibition will feature paintings from the 1950s.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for local people to see so many works by such an outstanding painter, some of which have never been seen in public before: a real first for the region," Nichola Johnson, director at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, said.

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