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A SHORT HISTORY OF THE DRAWINGS GIVEN BY FRANCIS BACON TO CRISTIANO LOVATELLI RAVARINO BETWEEN 1977 AND 1992, AND THE EVIDENCE THAT PROVES THEIR AUTHENTICITY.

By Umberto Guerini

Cristiano Lovatelli Ravarino is the owner of finished, large-scale artworks, drawings, pastels and collages that were given to him as gifts between 1977 and 1992 by Francis Bacon, as is proven by a deed of gift, dated and signed personally by the Irish painter.
The deed of gift reads as follows: “02/04/1988. I left all my drawings to Cristian Ravarino. I am indebted to him and Italian renaissance culture. I also have the suspicion that in all those years Marlborough Gallery cheated and robbed me thanks to awkward situations created by the gallery itself. With love, Francis Bacon.”
In addition to the aforementioned deed of gift, the authenticity of these drawings is further demonstrated by the following proofs:

a) The sentence handed down by the Bologna Tribunal on July 8, 2004 that clears Cristiano Lovatelli Ravarino of charges that he forged the drawings in his possession, and established the following circumstances as fact: Cristiano Lovatelli Ravarino and Francis Bacon met one another and spent time together in Bologna, Venice and Cortina d'Ampezzo; the drawings are a part of their relationship and a part of them is signed by Francis Bacon, even if, probably, when he was drunk, as assessed Dr. Ambra Draghetti, prosecutor's expert during the trial in the Bologna Tribunal; Cristiano Lovatelli Ravarino supplied Francis Bacon with some of the paper on which the drawings were executed, and in particular the paper obtained from the Fabriano company, as is demonstrated by the embossed stamps on the sheets of paper which, in the beginning, Bacon cut off thinking that they were advertisements.

b) Testimony from Cristina Pezzoli, known as “Bebella”, who declared that she was given a drawing as a gift directly by Francis Bacon in 1982/83, while the two were at the Osteria dei Poeti, a restaurant in Via dei Poeti, Bologna, one evening.

c) New expert analysis of the signature and graphological signs conducted by Dr. Ambra Draghetti. Starting with analyses she conducted as expert testimony for the prosecution beginning in 1999, Dr. Draghetti reexamined all the drawings in Cristiano Lovatelli Ravarino’s collection (the first time she was not able to conduct such a direct comparison). Utilizing avant-garde technologies to analyze the signatures, graphic signs and the paper upon which they were executed through in-depth scientific analyses, she conducted direct comparisons between these signatures and graphic signs and the numerous and significant graphic signs that are already recognized as Francis Bacon’s. The results of her investigation were presented for the first time at a convention held in London on February 08, 2012, as part of the art exhibition “Signum Baconiensia, 8th -18th February 2012: A collection of drawings donated by Francis Bacon to Cristiano Lovatelli Ravarino.” The convention was held in the Gallery in Cork Street, London. Dr. Draghetti reached the following conclusion: there can be no doubt that every single drawing in Cristiano Lovatelli Ravarino’s collection was executed by Francis Bacon, as well as the signatures found on the drawings.

d) Testimony from the Marquise Horacio de Sosa Cordero, who was such a close friend of Francis Bacon’s that he was asked by John Edwards to go to Madrid in April 1992 in order to identify the artist’s body. During a press conference held in Buenos Aires on October 22, 2010, the Marquise de Sosa Cordero confirmed that the drawings exhibited and the signatures found on the drawings are both Francis Bacon’s. He also recognized and identified many of the people portrayed in the drawings.
In an essay written for a convention that focused on Francis Bacon’s drawings, held on June 26, 2012 at the Gate Gallery in Prague as part of the exhibition “Francis Bacon – Bhoumil Harabal,” Horacio de Sosa Cordero declared as follows: “Very few people frequented his studio in London on a daily basis: Peter Beard, whenever he came back from one of his photographic safaris in Africa; David Sylvester; Lucian Freud; George Dyer; and I; years later John Edwards, who sometimes arrived from Italy accompanied by a young, very friendly Bologna journalist named Ravarino. Francis Bacon toured Italy together with Ravarino, visiting Rome, Sicily, Cortina d'Ampezzo, Bologna, Tuscany and other Italian cities… The truth is that Francis Bacon began to make periodic trips to Italy, where things were quiet and he was away from the watchful eyes of Gilbert Lloyd, or his sister Angela or Pierre Levin, his right-hand man in NYC, today director of the gallery.

Then he would eagerly dedicate himself to drawing, as well as producing collages and mixed media, some of which can be seen on display at the Gate Gallery in Prague, and many of which represent his magnificent series of Popes, in addition to studio portraits, or compositions, some of which I saw in his atelier in Paris. Francis Bacon was involved in his relationship with Ravarino, his ‘man in Italy,’ a companion, lover and the inheritor of these magnificent works that I would call “the major works from Francis Bacon’s secret period in Italy.”

e) Testimony from Stephen Conrad, an art historian who in an email sent to Umberto Guerini on June 11, 2012 declared as follows: “The facts, as I recall them, are these. I was persuaded by my friend, the art dealer Edward Bigden to meet a man called Ian Collins in Debenham, Suffolk, and take a look at the Bacon drawings which he had in his possession. At that time, Edward will recall the date, but some time in 2008 I think, I did not know that these drawings had come through David Edwards and had belonged to Cristiano Ravarino.  I thought they were right (this is only a personal opinion, and one which I uphold) and though not an expert on Bacon, I am an art historian, and I was acquainted with Martin Harrison, so one day I called Harrison and Edward and I arranged to meet him at his home and to show him about 6 drawings.

Edward will recall the date, but we met Harrison at his home near Westbourne Grove/Paddington, a mews house I recall, and this was at the time when the Catalogue Raisonné was being started.  Edward and I showed him the contents of the portfolio, Harrison's wife was present, and indeed, Harrison seemed perfectly convinced that the drawings were indeed by Bacon.”

f) Testimony from Brian Hawhow, Lyndsay Hayhow and Margaret Skawinski-Sheaser. Brian Hayhow, a medical surgeon by profession, declared that he performed an emergency operation on John Edwards in 1988 to cure his appendicitis, and on that occasion first met Francis Bacon. On November 2012, Brian Hayhow made the following statements during a video interview, declaring as follows: “I saw him when he came out. And I remember Francis and John were walking very slowly and carefully… A big table – I think in a conservatory area – was strewn with books, magazines, drawings…and Francis picked them up to move them away. ‘They’re nothing!’ (said Francis) Because, I suspect that he did not want to be praised… And he said ‘I am grateful to you.” On that occasion, Francis Bacon gave Brian Hayhow one pencil drawing portraying a figure as a gift. The drawing is signed by Francis Bacon, and is identical in both graphic signs and in the signature to those that constitute the “corpus” of drawings given by Francis Bacon to Cristiano Lovatelli Ravarino as a gift.

From that time forward, Brian Hayhow became friends with Francis Bacon, spending time together regularly until the artist’s death. Brian Hayhow also noted that Francis Bacon made a pencil drawing of his daughter that showed her getting out of the swimming pool at Margaret Skawinski-Sheaser’s house. The aforementioned circumstances were confirmed on the same day (and documented in the same manner, through video recording) by Lyndsay Hayhow, barrister and wife of Brian, as well as by Margaret Skawinski-Sheaser, a close friend of Francis Bacon’s as is demonstrated through the numerous photographs portraying the two together.

g) The drawings have been examined and studied by internationally recognized art historians and critics including: Giorgio Soavi, Edward Lucie Smith, Vittorio Sgarbi and, most recently, Peini Beatrice Hsieh, Serena Baccaglini.

h) In September 2011, in Monte Carlo, several drawings from Cristiano Lovatelli Ravarino’s collection were closely examined by David Nahmad, recognized as one of the world’s foremost art merchants and collectors, who identified them as authentic Francis Bacon artworks.

i) The drawings in question have been the focus of three international conventions, held respectively in Buenos Aires (Espacio de arte SIGEN, October 22, 2010); London (Open Forum, “The Gallery in Cork Street,” February 8, 2012); and Prague (conference held at “The Gate Gallery,” June 26, 2012).

l) The drawings in the collection have been placed on display in exhibitions held in museums and art galleries in the following cities: Venice (2009-2011); Zurich (2009); Milan (2010); Cento-Ferrara, Italy (2010); Évora-Lisbon, Portugal (2010); Buenos Aires: Borges Museum, Espacio de arte SIGEN (2010); Berlin (2010); Paris (2011); Santiago, Chile (2011); London (2011); Kaohsiung-Taiwan (2012); Prague (2012); and Aguascalientes, Mexico (2012-2013). The exhibition held in Cento-Ferrara was sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities. The exhibition held at SIGEN in Buenos Aires was sponsored by the Argentine Ministry of Culture and the Argentine National Bank.

m) Critical essays focusing on the drawings in Cristiano Lovatelli Ravarino’s collection have been written by: Giorgio Soavi, Edward Lucie Smith, Alessandro Riva, Vittorio Sgarbi, Duccio Trombadori, Raffaele Gavarro, Horacio de Sosa Cordero, Serena Baccaglini and Peini Beatrice Hsieh.

n) In 2008 the history of these drawings, drawn from the evidence and arguments presented during the trial, as well as evidence accumulated following the trial’s conclusion, were gathered together and published in a book entitled “The Tip of an Iceberg: The drawings of Francis Bacon” by Umberto Guerini.

o) In January 2012, the legal proceedings from the trial, including the sentence, were published verbatim in a volume entitled “The Recent History of the Italian Drawings of Francis Bacon. This publication also includes correspondence with one of the most important English art historians, Brian Sewell, who was a friend of Francis Bacon and who, following a critical examination and after having previously expressed opinions against the drawings, concluded that the only declaration he could make was that he “had never seen anything like them before.”