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In 2013, Francis Bacon’s triptych Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969) shattered auction records when it sold for $142.4 million at Christie’s—becoming the most expensive work ever sold at auction at the time. Over the course of his career, Bacon’s three-part paintings—28 in total—became integral pieces in his body of work. “I suppose I could go long beyond the triptych and do five or six together,” he once said. “But I find the triptych is a more balanced unit.” From screaming popes in mangled papal gowns to the sordid faces of his deceased friends, Bacon’s triptychs are characterized by the existential anxiety he felt in the post-war era. While Bacon’s triptych paintings rarely come to market, the artist also produced a limited edition series of etchings and lithographs featuring his signature three-part compositions.

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