Works from the storied collection of Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis are set to be offered in May at Sotheby’s contemporary evening sale in New York. Leading the 13 works being offered from the collection is a painting from Francis Bacon’s famed “Screaming Pope” series, Study for a Head (1952), which is estimated to sell for between $20 million and $30 million.
The current record for a piece from the series is Untitled (Pope), 1954, which went for $29.7 million in 2012 at Sotheby’s in New York. The artist’s overall auction record is $142.4 million, for Three Studies of Lucian Freud (in 3 parts), 1969, which was set at Christie’s New York in 2013.
Study for a Head was one of the first works by Bacon ever to enter a private American collection, when it was originally acquired by Jackson Pollock’s biographer, Bernard H. Friedman, in the year it was made. It is one of six portrait heads that Bacon completed in 1952; the other five reside at Tate Britain in London and the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven.
Grégoire Billault, the head of Sotheby’s contemporary art department in New York, who once worked as a researcher for the Bacon estate, said in a release, “The painting contains all the elements of the artist’s best-known works from this period—broken pince-nez glasses, a purple mozzetta, and of course the reverberating scream—and draws inspiration from the works of Velázquez, Munch, and Poussin, as well as Bacon’s lifelong exploration of the human condition. We greatly look forward to presenting the painting to collectors and admirers of Bacon’s genius around the world this spring.”
Other pieces from the collection of Lang and Davis that are being brought to auction include a sculpture by Alberto Giacometti, Le Couple (1927), estimated between $900,000 and $1.5 million, Hans Hofmann’s View from the Balcony (1964), which is estimated at $500,000 to $700,000, Willem de Kooning’s Woman with Red Hair (1967), estimated at $350,000 at $450,000, Philip Guston’s Doyer I (1958), estimated at $200,000 to $300,000, and Adolph Gottlieb’s Evil Eye (1946), estimated at $120,000 to $180,000.