Five Paintings in Edinburgh That Might Make Ian Rankin Pull Off a Heist

Francis Bacon’s Figure: Study One at the National Scottish Gallery of Modern Art.

Bacon is my favorite artist.  As a student, I once took an overnight coach to London (the cheapest method of travel) so I could attend one of his exhibitions.  This is one of his earliest surviving paintings (he destroyed much of his prewar work) and dates from 1945-6.  It is unusual in that it is a still life of sorts—there is no human figure in the painting.  Instead we have a hunched tweed coat, a hat, and some flowers.  And yet Bacon manages to suggest that some horror is lurking beneath the coat.  Whenever I stand in front of this painting, I feel a sense of creeping dread.  It is powerful, disturbing, and precise.—Ian Rankin

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