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At the very centre of the life of one of the twentieth-century’s greatest artists was the most unexpected of life-long influences. The aptly named Jessie Lightfoot shielded the young Francis Bacon from the brutish violence of his bullying father, as well as from his worst self-immolating excesses later in life. The tenderness, wit and warmth of this inimitable Nanny stands in illuminating relief to the sulphurous palette that defined Bacon’s work. Beyond the humour and heart of this extraordinary woman – who finds herself confronted with the shade and guile of the artworld – Maylis Besserie also gives us a glimpse of Ireland in the first half of the twentieth century, both a powder keg and a place apart from the rest of the world, whose landscapes, imagery and animals haunted the famous painter’s canvases.

In the final of Maylis Besserie’s Irish-French trilogy, her preoccupation with the art and lives of artists who crossed borders between France and Ireland has a fitting climax as Bacon confronts the boundaries between the real and the imagined.

Format: Paperback
Publication Date: 16 May 2024
Pages: 264
ISBN: 9781843518884 Category: Tags: ,

Francis Bacon's Nanny


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