Pope II
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ebrowne's picture


You can pretty much guess Bacon’s religious views from one look at Pope II.

You guessed it! He’s an atheist. Honestly, who wouldn’t be an atheist after all of the sh*t that went down in his lifetime. You can only experience so much death before you stop believing in everything. But on a less depressing note, this painting is part of a series of paintings for which Bacon is most popular. It’s the evil twin of a portrait of Pope Innocent X that Diego Velázquez made in 1650 and, like an evil twin, is much more interesting and fun. Bacon famously never saw the original painting in person until his decade-long obsession with Velázquez’s pope was long over. And it’s not like he didn’t have the opportunity to see it. He actively avoided the portrait even when he was in Rome. He did however have a ton of reproductions of it that he copied tirelessly - making over 50, some of which he destroyed. Bacon was a strange one to say the least.

When asked why he was making all of these dementor-looking, nightmarish popes, Bacon replied that it wasn’t that he had anything against them, but he needed "an excuse to use these colours, and you can't give ordinary clothes that purple colour without getting into a sort of false fauve manner." So it was in the name of the perfect outfit color that he turned a portrait of a pope into something out of a horror film. Makes total sense.




  1. "Pope II, 1951". Web. 12 June 2017.
  2. "The Truth Behind Francis Bacon's 'Screaming' Popes | Art | Agenda | Phaidon". Phaidon. Web. 12 June 2017.
  3. Glover, Michael. "Great Works: Study After Velázquez's Portrait Of Pope Innocent X,". The Independent. N.p., 2013. Web. 12 June 2017.