This work is generally considered one in a series of Black Triptychs which followed the suicide of Bacon’s lover, George Dyer. Dyer appears on the left and Bacon is on the right. The central group is derived from a photograph of wrestlers by Edward Muybridge, but also suggests a more sexual encounter. The seated figures and their coupling are set against black voids and the central flurry has been seen as ‘a life-and death struggle’. The artist’s biographer wrote: ‘What death has not already consumed seeps incontinently out of the figures as their shadows.’
Caption from the Tate Gallery label, 2016
Reed Enger, "Triptych, August 1972," in Obelisk Art History, Published March 24, 2018; last modified August 04, 2018, http://arthistoryproject.com/artists/francis-bacon/triptych-august-1972/.