Excerpt from catalogue
Some months ago, I had felt the need to present a second exhibition of paintings by Francis
Bacon and I thought the exhibition should be dedicated to John Edwards. Francis had met
the young John Edwards in 1976 when he was 68, and after knowing him a few years had
grown to love him and chose him to be his son.
As great and intelligent an artist, he was not one to take things lightly and certainly knew
the importance of his art and its place in history. Some four years before he died in 1992,
Francis Bacon. quite consciously and deliberately decided to leave everything, all the
paintings he had quietly kept for himself, as well as his notoriously famous studio in
Kensington, entrust to the care of John Edwards. This momentous act surely has great
meaning and significance. Not many fathers are as intelligent and brilliant as Francis
Bacon, and certainly not many fathers like their sons enough to leave them anything,
When I mentioned the idea of dedicating this exhibition to John Edwards, to my good
friend the artist Brian Clarke, the Executor of the Francis Bacon Estate, he told me of "a
marvelous letter" which had only recently been discovered among other important papers,
documents and letters, wantonly torn to shreds by unknown persons.
When pieced together, the scraps turned out to be a two page hand written letter from Sir
Stephen Spender, the great English poet, to his old friend Francis Bacon, written on March
1, 1988, when Francis was 79 years old and working on the heroic Second Version of
"Triptych 1944," and his upcoming exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum. It is a letter of a
father writing to his old friend about love and the "profound" John Edwards "untainted
by what is called education," and ends with a mention of his own son, Matthew Spender.
I hope that including this letter in this catalogue would help bring to light the extraordinary
relation Francis Bacon had with John Edwards, with whom he found a son and "became"
the loving father he himself never had.