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colony of another sort

June 8, 2009

[NYTimes] Although Bacon was already making his name, he needed pocket money, and Muriel paid him to bring in rich patrons. If the word isn’t too far-fetched, she became his muse, while he became one of Muriel’s “daughters.” Most men were “she” to Muriel; it could be disconcerting when some elderly major was introduced with the words, “She was a very gallant little lady on the Somme.”

Before long most of what would later be known as the School of London congregated there, including Frank Auerbach and Lucian Freud as well as Bacon and Andrews. That painting by Andrews showed the names on the schedule in effect in the mid-1960s. Clustered around Muriel are her companion Carmel; Jeffrey Bernard (dropout, boozer, wit and later Spectator columnist); Henrietta Moraes (also much painted by Bacon); Lady Rose McClaren (the déclassé sister of the Marquess of Anglesey); and John Deakin, who took the photograph of Muriel, as well as several others in the Bacon exhibition at the Met.

Also Bacon and Mr. Freud, whose friendship had been commemorated years before in another painting, Mr. Freud’s haunting small portrait of Bacon. They could often be seen talking together in the corner, a study in contrasts: Mr. Freud reserved, ironic, abstemious (and conspicuously heterosexual — Muriel’s was very camp, not to say lewd, but far from merely what was then called a “queer club”); Bacon more expansive, especially while the drink flowed. (read)

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