Sunday, 28 October 2012


Fantasy Bob has worn the patience of his readers thin many times by suggesting that prominent works of art are based on some aspect of cricket.  The first time he played this game, they reacted with interest or faint amusement.  But the grins soon turned to fixed stares as more and more works and pillars of 20th art were given the same treatment.  Eventually there was scepticism and a chorus of, 'Come on, you're just making this up.  Can you please tell us about empire biscuits instead?  They're far more interesting.'

So FB is concerned that he may have cried wolf and his worldwide readership in their handful will not be ready for his latest.  The would be a pity. For today is the birthday of Francis Bacon, born on 28 October 1909, who was one of the most significant British painters of the mid 20th Century.  But he is one painter who did produce a significant work with a cricketing theme.

Figure in Motion was painted in 1985 and given by Bacon to his doctor.  His doctor sold it in 2010 for the modest price of $14m.

It has many characteristics instantly recognisable as Bacon's, the single colour background and the distorted, agonised facial features.  It is unclear why Bacon chose this subject, which despite FB's efforts to look for evidence otherwise is wholly absent from the rest of his work being concerned with popes and crucifiction and meat for the most part.   There are suggestions that the picture is based on David Gower, but that seems to be for no other reason than that Gower was the England captain at the time that it was painted.

Not by Francis Bacon
Indeed Gower was worthy of a painting that year for he captained England to a comprehensive 3-1 series win against Australia, leading by example with 732 runs in the series including a majestic 215 in the 5th Test at Edgbaston (see here).

But if it is Gower, it's not a very good likeness.  Nor is there much evidence of a bat in the painting so it may be that the subject is properly a wicket-keeper.  But while he has pads on, and trousers, he doesn't seem to have much by way of a shirt.
This is no doubt some profound artistic statement by Bacon who no doubt harboured a frustrated urge to play the game.

When he died in 1992, that urge remained unfulfilled. 

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