Bacon was born in Dublin, Ireland to English parents. The family moved back and forth between Dublin and London several times while he was growing up. He was a sickly child, predominantly suffering from asthma, which carried into his adult life. His father, a retired serviceman turned horse-trainer, attempted to “toughen him up” by having his son horsewhipped. He was expelled from his family in 1925 for several reasons. Most notably, the discovery of his homosexuality, and an incident in which his father found him in front of a mirror dressed in his mother’s clothes.
Bacon then spent a few months with his uncle in Berlin, then a year and a half in Paris, before returning to London and starting out as an interior designer. As a painter, Bacon was self-taught in that he never attended any formal art school or training. He began work in watercolour about 1926–27, moving onto oils in the fall of 1929. An exhibition of art, prints and posters by Pablo Picasso inspired him to make his first drawings and paintings. The influence of the biomorphic figures in Picasso’s works is apparent in Bacon’s first major painting of his mature period, “Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion” (1944). This painting is also representative of some of Bacon’s methods and subjects: the triptych, the scream, and the lone figure against a stark backgroud.
Disheartened by lack of interest in his art, prints and posters, Bacon painted relatively little after his solo show in 1934 until the late 1940’s. He considered the time after this to be the true start of his career. Bacon was disdainful of his work from before 1944 and destroyed the majority of it. He also destroyed an unknown number of works throughout his lifetime, and fragments of canvases were found in his studio after his death.