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Bacon's cardinal steps into the light

A major portrait from Francis Bacon's famous Papal series, in which he transmuted papal images into visions of insanity, has come on to the market for the first time in decades.

Seated Figure (Red Cardinal) has been known to experts only from a black- and-white photograph and has not been seen by the public for 35 years. Its sale at Christie's on 4 December - for an estimated pounds 1.5m - is hailed as a return to confidence in the art market.

Bacon painted Seated Figure in 1960. It resided in an American collection until the 1970s, and was then bought by a European collector.

Bacon died in April 1992; a new biography by Michael Peppiatt, Anatomy of an Enigma, details the artist's love affair with Peter Lacy, and tells how many of his works were destroyed.