Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban,[a] PC QC (/ˈbeɪkən/; 22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626) was an English philosopher and statesman who served as Attorney General and as Lord Chancellor of England. His works are credited with developing the scientific method and remained influential through the scientific revolution.
Bacon has been called the father of empiricism. His works argued for the possibility of scientific knowledge based only upon inductive reasoning and careful observation of events in nature. Most importantly, he argued science could be achieved by use of a sceptical and methodical approach whereby scientists aim to avoid misleading themselves. Although his practical ideas about such a method, the Baconian method, did not have a long-lasting influence, the general idea of the importance and possibility of a sceptical methodology makes Bacon the father of the scientific method. This method was a new rhetorical and theoretical framework for science, the practical details of which are still central in debates about science and methodology. Bacon was a patron of libraries and developed a functional system for the cataloging of books by dividing them into three categories—history, poetry, and philosophy—which could further be divided into more specific subjects and subheadings. Bacon was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he rigorously followed the medieval curriculum, largely in Latin.
Bacon was the first recipient of the Queen's counsel designation, which was conferred in 1597 when Queen Elizabeth reserved Bacon as her legal advisor. After the accession of King James I in 1603, Bacon was knighted. He was later created Baron Verulam in 1618 and Viscount St. Alban in 1621.[b] Because he had no heirs, both titles became extinct upon his death in 1626, at 65 years. Bacon died of pneumonia, with one account by John Aubrey stating that he had contracted the condition while studying the effects of freezing on the preservation of meat. He is buried at St Michael's Church, St Albans, Hertfordshire.
The Viscount St. Alban
|Lord High Chancellor of England|
|Preceded by||The Viscount Brackley|
|Succeeded by||In commission|
|Attorney General of England and Wales|
|Preceded by||Sir Henry Hobart|
|Succeeded by||Henry Yelverton|
|Born||22 January 1561|
Strand, London, England
|Died||9 April 1626 (aged 65)|
Highgate, Middlesex, England
|Alma mater||University of Cambridge|
Trinity College, Cambridge
University of Poitiers
Francis Bacon was born on 22 January 1561 at York House near the Strand in London, the son of Sir Nicholas Bacon by his second wife, Anne (Cooke) Bacon, the daughter of the noted humanist Anthony Cooke. His mother's sister was married to William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, making Burghley Bacon's uncle.
Biographers believe that Bacon was educated at home in his early years owing to poor health, which would plague him throughout his life. He received tuition from John Walsall, a graduate of Oxford with a strong leaning toward Puritanism. He went up to Trinity College at the University of Cambridge on 5 April 1573 at the age of 12, living for three years there, together with his older brother Anthony Bacon under the personal tutelage of Dr John Whitgift, future Archbishop of Canterbury. Bacon's education was conducted largely in Latin and followed the medieval curriculum. He was also educated at the University of Poitiers. It was also at Cambridge that Bacon first met Queen Elizabeth, who was impressed by his precocious intellect, and was accustomed to calling him "The young lord keeper".
His studies brought him to the belief that the methods and results of science as then practised were erroneous. His reverence for Aristotle conflicted with his rejection of Aristotelian philosophy, which seemed to him barren, disputatious and wrong in its objectives.
On 27 June 1576, he and Anthony entered de societate magistrorum at Gray's Inn. A few months later, Francis went abroad with Sir Amias Paulet, the English ambassador at Paris, while Anthony continued his studies at home. The state of government and society in France under Henry III afforded him valuable political instruction. For the next three years he visited Blois, Poitiers, Tours, Italy, and Spain. During his travels, Bacon studied language, statecraft, and civil law while performing routine diplomatic tasks. On at least one occasion he delivered diplomatic letters to England for Walsingham, Burghley, and Leicester, as well as for the queen.
The sudden death of his father in February 1579 prompted Bacon to return to England. Sir Nicholas had laid up a considerable sum of money to purchase an estate for his youngest son, but he died before doing so, and Francis was left with only a fifth of that money. Having borrowed money, Bacon got into debt. To support himself, he took up his residence in law at Gray's Inn in 1579, his income being supplemented by a grant from his mother Lady Anne of the manor of Marks near Romford in Essex, which generated a rent of £46.
Bacon stated that he had three goals: to uncover truth, to serve his country, and to serve his church. He sought to further these ends by seeking a prestigious post. In 1580, through his uncle, Lord Burghley, he applied for a post at court that might enable him to pursue a life of learning, but his application failed. For two years he worked quietly at Gray's Inn, until he was admitted as an outer barrister in 1582.
His parliamentary career began when he was elected MP for Bossiney, Cornwall, in a by-election in 1581. In 1584 he took his seat in parliament for Melcombe in Dorset, and in 1586 for Taunton. At this time, he began to write on the condition of parties in the church, as well as on the topic of philosophical reform in the lost tract Temporis Partus Maximus. Yet he failed to gain a position that he thought would lead him to success. He showed signs of sympathy to Puritanism, attending the sermons of the Puritan chaplain of Gray's Inn and accompanying his mother to the Temple Church to hear Walter Travers. This led to the publication of his earliest surviving tract, which criticised the English church's suppression of the Puritan clergy. In the Parliament of 1586, he openly urged execution for the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots.
About this time, he again approached his powerful uncle for help; this move was followed by his rapid progress at the bar. He became a bencher in 1586 and was elected a Reader in 1587, delivering his first set of lectures in Lent the following year. In 1589, he received the valuable appointment of reversion to the Clerkship of the Star Chamber, although he did not formally take office until 1608; the post was worth £1,600 a year.
He became known as a liberal-minded reformer, eager to amend and simplify the law. Though a friend of the crown, he opposed feudal privileges and dictatorial powers. He spoke against religious persecution. He struck at the House of Lords in its usurpation of the Money Bills. He advocated for the union of England and Scotland, which made him a significant influence toward the consolidation of the United Kingdom; and he later would advocate for the integration of Ireland into the Union. Closer constitutional ties, he believed, would bring greater peace and strength to these countries.
In 1592 he was commissioned to write a tract in response to the Jesuit Robert Parson's anti-government polemic, which he titled Certain observations made upon a libel, identifying England with the ideals of democratic Athens against the belligerence of Spain.
Bacon took his third parliamentary seat for Middlesex when in February 1593 Elizabeth summoned Parliament to investigate a Roman Catholic plot against her. Bacon's opposition to a bill that would levy triple subsidies in half the usual time offended the Queen: opponents accused him of seeking popularity, and for a time the Court excluded him from favour.
When the office of Attorney General fell vacant in 1594, Lord Essex's influence was not enough to secure the position for Bacon and it was given to Sir Edward Coke. Likewise, Bacon failed to secure the lesser office of Solicitor General in 1595, the Queen pointedly snubbing him by appointing Sir Thomas Fleming instead. To console him for these disappointments, Essex presented him with a property at Twickenham, which Bacon subsequently sold for £1,800.
In 1597 Bacon became the first Queen's Counsel designate, when Queen Elizabeth reserved him as her legal counsel. In 1597, he was also given a patent, giving him precedence at the Bar. Despite his designations, he was unable to gain the status and notoriety of others. In a plan to revive his position he unsuccessfully courted the wealthy young widow Lady Elizabeth Hatton. His courtship failed after she broke off their relationship upon accepting marriage to Sir Edward Coke, a further spark of enmity between the men. In 1598 Bacon was arrested for debt. Afterward, however, his standing in the Queen's eyes improved. Gradually, Bacon earned the standing of one of the learned counsels. His relationship with the Queen further improved when he severed ties with Essex—a shrewd move, as Essex would be executed for treason in 1601.
With others, Bacon was appointed to investigate the charges against Essex. A number of Essex's followers confessed that Essex had planned a rebellion against the Queen. Bacon was subsequently a part of the legal team headed by the Attorney General Sir Edward Coke at Essex's treason trial. After the execution, the Queen ordered Bacon to write the official government account of the trial, which was later published as A DECLARATION of the Practices and Treasons attempted and committed by Robert late Earle of Essex and his Complices, against her Majestie and her Kingdoms ... after Bacon's first draft was heavily edited by the Queen and her ministers.
According to his personal secretary and chaplain, William Rawley, as a judge Bacon was always tender-hearted, "looking upon the examples with the eye of severity, but upon the person with the eye of pity and compassion". And also that "he was free from malice", "no revenger of injuries", and "no defamer of any man".
The succession of James I brought Bacon into greater favour. He was knighted in 1603. In another shrewd move, Bacon wrote his Apologies in defence of his proceedings in the case of Essex, as Essex had favoured James to succeed to the throne.
The following year, during the course of the uneventful first parliament session, Bacon married Alice Barnham. In June 1607 he was at last rewarded with the office of solicitor general. The following year, he began working as the Clerkship of the Star Chamber. Despite a generous income, old debts still could not be paid. He sought further promotion and wealth by supporting King James and his arbitrary policies.
In 1610 the fourth session of James's first parliament met. Despite Bacon's advice to him, James and the Commons found themselves at odds over royal prerogatives and the king's embarrassing extravagance. The House was finally dissolved in February 1611. Throughout this period Bacon managed to stay in the favour of the king while retaining the confidence of the Commons.
In 1613 Bacon was finally appointed attorney general, after advising the king to shuffle judicial appointments. As attorney general, Bacon, by his zealous efforts—which included torture—to obtain the conviction of Edmund Peacham for treason, raised legal controversies of high constitutional importance; and successfully prosecuted Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset, and his wife, Frances Howard, Countess of Somerset, for murder in 1616. The so-called Prince's Parliament of April 1614 objected to Bacon's presence in the seat for Cambridge and to the various royal plans that Bacon had supported. Although he was allowed to stay, parliament passed a law that forbade the attorney general to sit in parliament. His influence over the king had evidently inspired resentment or apprehension in many of his peers. Bacon, however, continued to receive the King's favour, which led to his appointment in March 1617 as temporary Regent of England (for a period of a month), and in 1618 as Lord Chancellor. On 12 July 1618 the king created Bacon Baron Verulam, of Verulam, in the Peerage of England; he then became known as Francis, Lord Verulam.
Bacon continued to use his influence with the king to mediate between the throne and Parliament, and in this capacity he was further elevated in the same peerage, as Viscount St Alban, on 27 January 1621.
Bacon's public career ended in disgrace in 1621. After he fell into debt, a parliamentary committee on the administration of the law charged him with 23 separate counts of corruption. His lifelong enemy, Sir Edward Coke, who had instigated these accusations, was one of those appointed to prepare the charges against the chancellor. To the lords, who sent a committee to enquire whether a confession was really his, he replied, "My lords, it is my act, my hand, and my heart; I beseech your lordships to be merciful to a broken reed." He was sentenced to a fine of £40,000 and committed to the Tower of London at the king's pleasure; the imprisonment lasted only a few days and the fine was remitted by the king. More seriously, parliament declared Bacon incapable of holding future office or sitting in parliament. He narrowly escaped undergoing degradation, which would have stripped him of his titles of nobility. Subsequently, the disgraced viscount devoted himself to study and writing.
There seems little doubt that Bacon had accepted gifts from litigants, but this was an accepted custom of the time and not necessarily evidence of deeply corrupt behaviour. While acknowledging that his conduct had been lax, he countered that he had never allowed gifts to influence his judgement and, indeed, he had on occasion given a verdict against those who had paid him. He even had an interview with King James in which he assured:
The law of nature teaches me to speak in my own defence: With respect to this charge of bribery I am as innocent as any man born on St. Innocents Day. I never had a bribe or reward in my eye or thought when pronouncing judgment or order... I am ready to make an oblation of myself to the King— 17 April 1621
He also wrote the following to Buckingham:
My mind is calm, for my fortune is not my felicity. I know I have clean hands and a clean heart, and I hope a clean house for friends or servants; but Job himself, or whoever was the justest judge, by such hunting for matters against him as hath been used against me, may for a time seem foul, especially in a time when greatness is the mark and accusation is the game.
The true reason for his acknowledgement of guilt is the subject of debate, but some authors speculate that it may have been prompted by his sickness, or by a view that through his fame and the greatness of his office he would be spared harsh punishment. He may even have been blackmailed, with a threat to charge him with sodomy, into confession.
The British jurist Basil Montagu wrote in Bacon's defence, concerning the episode of his public disgrace:
Bacon has been accused of servility, of dissimulation, of various base motives, and their filthy brood of base actions, all unworthy of his high birth, and incompatible with his great wisdom, and the estimation in which he was held by the noblest spirits of the age. It is true that there were men in his own time, and will be men in all times, who are better pleased to count spots in the sun than to rejoice in its glorious brightness. Such men have openly libelled him, like Dewes and Weldon, whose falsehoods were detected as soon as uttered, or have fastened upon certain ceremonious compliments and dedications, the fashion of his day, as a sample of his servility, passing over his noble letters to the Queen, his lofty contempt for the Lord Keeper Puckering, his open dealing with Sir Robert Cecil, and with others, who, powerful when he was nothing, might have blighted his opening fortunes for ever, forgetting his advocacy of the rights of the people in the face of the court, and the true and honest counsels, always given by him, in times of great difficulty, both to Elizabeth and her successor. When was a "base sycophant" loved and honoured by piety such as that of Herbert, Tennison, and Rawley, by noble spirits like Hobbes, Ben Jonson, and Selden, or followed to the grave, and beyond it, with devoted affection such as that of Sir Thomas Meautys.
Bacon was a devout Anglican. He believed that philosophy and the natural world must be studied inductively, but argued that we can only study arguments for the existence of God. Information on his attributes (such as nature, action, and purposes) can only come from special revelation. But Bacon also held that knowledge was cumulative, that study encompassed more than a simple preservation of the past. "Knowledge is the rich storehouse for the glory of the Creator and the relief of man's estate," he wrote. In his Essays, he affirms that "a little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion."
Bacon's idea of idols of the mind may have self-consciously represented an attempt to Christianize science at the same time as developing a new, reliable scientific method; Bacon gave worship of Neptune as an example of the idola tribus fallacy, hinting at the religious dimensions of his critique of the idols.
When he was 36, Bacon courted Elizabeth Hatton, a young widow of 20. Reportedly, she broke off their relationship upon accepting marriage to a wealthier man, Bacon's rival, Sir Edward Coke. Years later, Bacon still wrote of his regret that the marriage to Hatton had not taken place.
At the age of 45, Bacon married Alice Barnham, the 14-year-old daughter of a well-connected London alderman and MP. Bacon wrote two sonnets proclaiming his love for Alice. The first was written during his courtship and the second on his wedding day, 10 May 1606. When Bacon was appointed lord chancellor, "by special Warrant of the King", Lady Bacon was given precedence over all other Court ladies. Bacon's personal secretary and chaplain, William Rawley, wrote in his biography of Bacon that his marriage was one of "much conjugal love and respect", mentioning a robe of honour that he gave to Alice and which "she wore unto her dying day, being twenty years and more after his death".
However, an increasing number of reports circulated about friction in the marriage, with speculation that this may have been due to Alice's making do with less money than she had once been accustomed to. It was said that she was strongly interested in fame and fortune, and when household finances dwindled, she complained bitterly. Bunten wrote in her Life of Alice Barnham that, upon their descent into debt, she went on trips to ask for financial favours and assistance from their circle of friends. Bacon disinherited her upon discovering her secret romantic relationship with Sir John Underhill. He subsequently rewrote his will, which had previously been very generous—leaving her lands, goods, and income—and instead revoked it all.
Several authors believe that despite his marriage Bacon was primarily attracted to the same sex. Forker, for example, has explored the "historically documentable sexual preferences" of both Francis Bacon and King James I and concluded they were both orientated to "masculine love", a contemporary term that "seems to have been used exclusively to refer to the sexual preference of men for members of their own gender." The well-connected antiquary John Aubrey noted in his Brief Lives concerning Bacon, "He was a Pederast. His Ganimeds and Favourites tooke Bribes". The Jacobean antiquarian, Sir Simonds D'Ewes implied there had been a question of bringing him to trial for buggery, which his brother Anthony Bacon had also been charged with.
This conclusion has been disputed by others, who point to lack of consistent evidence, and consider the sources to be more open to interpretation. Publicly, at least, Bacon distanced himself from the idea of homosexuality. In his New Atlantis, he described his utopian island as being "the chastest nation under heaven", and "as for masculine love, they have no touch of it".
On 9 April 1626, Francis Bacon died of pneumonia while at Arundel mansion at Highgate outside London. An influential account of the circumstances of his death was given by John Aubrey's Brief Lives. Aubrey's vivid account, which portrays Bacon as a martyr to experimental scientific method, had him journeying to Highgate through the snow with the King's physician when he is suddenly inspired by the possibility of using the snow to preserve meat:
They were resolved they would try the experiment presently. They alighted out of the coach and went into a poor woman's house at the bottom of Highgate hill, and bought a fowl, and made the woman exenterate it.
After stuffing the fowl with snow, Bacon contracted a fatal case of pneumonia. Some people, including Aubrey, consider these two contiguous, possibly coincidental events as related and causative of his death:
The Snow so chilled him that he immediately fell so extremely ill, that he could not return to his Lodging … but went to the Earle of Arundel's house at Highgate, where they put him into … a damp bed that had not been layn-in … which gave him such a cold that in 2 or 3 days as I remember Mr Hobbes told me, he died of Suffocation.
Aubrey has been criticised for his evident credulousness in this and other works; on the other hand, he knew Thomas Hobbes, Bacon's fellow-philosopher and friend. Being unwittingly on his deathbed, the philosopher dictated his last letter to his absent host and friend Lord Arundel:
My very good Lord,—I was likely to have had the fortune of Caius Plinius the elder, who lost his life by trying an experiment about the burning of Mount Vesuvius; for I was also desirous to try an experiment or two touching the conservation and induration of bodies. As for the experiment itself, it succeeded excellently well; but in the journey between London and Highgate, I was taken with such a fit of casting as I know not whether it were the Stone, or some surfeit or cold, or indeed a touch of them all three. But when I came to your Lordship's House, I was not able to go back, and therefore was forced to take up my lodging here, where your housekeeper is very careful and diligent about me, which I assure myself your Lordship will not only pardon towards him, but think the better of him for it. For indeed your Lordship's House was happy to me, and I kiss your noble hands for the welcome which I am sure you give me to it. I know how unfit it is for me to write with any other hand than mine own, but by my troth my fingers are so disjointed with sickness that I cannot steadily hold a pen.
Another account appears in a biography by William Rawley, Bacon's personal secretary and chaplain:
He died on the ninth day of April in the year 1626, in the early morning of the day then celebrated for our Saviour's resurrection, in the sixty-sixth year of his age, at the Earl of Arundel's house in Highgate, near London, to which place he casually repaired about a week before; God so ordaining that he should die there of a gentle fever, accidentally accompanied with a great cold, whereby the defluxion of rheum fell so plentifully upon his breast, that he died by suffocation.
He was buried in St Michael's church in St Albans. At the news of his death, over 30 great minds collected together their eulogies of him, which were then later published in Latin. He left personal assets of about £7,000 and lands that realised £6,000 when sold. His debts amounted to more than £23,000, equivalent to more than £3m at current value.
Francis Bacon's philosophy is displayed in the vast and varied writings he left, which might be divided into three great branches:
Bacon's seminal work Novum Organum was influential in the 1630s and 1650s among scholars, in particular Sir Thomas Browne, who in his encyclopedia Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1646–72) frequently adheres to a Baconian approach to his scientific enquiries. This book entails the basis of the Scientific Method as a means of observation and induction. During the Restoration, Bacon was commonly invoked as a guiding spirit of the Royal Society founded under Charles II in 1660. During the 18th-century French Enlightenment, Bacon's non-metaphysical approach to science became more influential than the dualism of his French contemporary Descartes, and was associated with criticism of the ancien regime. In 1733 Voltaire introduced him to a French audience as the "father" of the scientific method, an understanding which had become widespread by the 1750s. In the 19th century his emphasis on induction was revived and developed by William Whewell, among others. He has been reputed as the "Father of Experimental Philosophy".
He also wrote a long treatise on Medicine, History of Life and Death, with natural and experimental observations for the prolongation of life.
One of his biographers, the historian William Hepworth Dixon, states: "Bacon's influence in the modern world is so great that every man who rides in a train, sends a telegram, follows a steam plough, sits in an easy chair, crosses the channel or the Atlantic, eats a good dinner, enjoys a beautiful garden, or undergoes a painless surgical operation, owes him something."
Bacon played a leading role in establishing the British colonies in North America, especially in Virginia, the Carolinas and Newfoundland in northeastern Canada. His government report on "The Virginia Colony" was submitted in 1609. In 1610 Bacon and his associates received a charter from the king to form the Tresurer and the Companye of Adventurers and planter of the Cittye of London and Bristoll for the Collonye or plantacon in Newfoundland, and sent John Guy to found a colony there. Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, wrote: "Bacon, Locke and Newton. I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical and Moral sciences".
In 1910 Newfoundland issued a postage stamp to commemorate Bacon's role in establishing the colony. The stamp describes Bacon as "the guiding spirit in Colonization Schemes in 1610". Moreover, some scholars believe he was largely responsible for the drafting, in 1609 and 1612, of two charters of government for the Virginia Colony. William Hepworth Dixon considered that Bacon's name could be included in the list of Founders of the United States.
Although few of his proposals for law reform were adopted during his lifetime, Bacon's legal legacy was considered by the magazine New Scientist in 1961 as having influenced the drafting of the Napoleonic Code as well as the law reforms introduced by 19th-century British Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel. The historian William Hepworth Dixon referred to the Napoleonic Code as "the sole embodiment of Bacon's thought", saying that Bacon's legal work "has had more success abroad than it has found at home", and that in France "it has blossomed and come into fruit".
Harvey Wheeler attributed to Bacon, in Francis Bacon's Verulamium—the Common Law Template of The Modern in English Science and Culture, the creation of these distinguishing features of the modern common law system:
As late as the 18th century some juries still declared the law rather than the facts, but already before the end of the 17th century Sir Matthew Hale explained modern common law adjudication procedure and acknowledged Bacon as the inventor of the process of discovering unwritten laws from the evidences of their applications. The method combined empiricism and inductivism in a new way that was to imprint its signature on many of the distinctive features of modern English society. Paul H. Kocher writes that Bacon is considered by some jurists to be the father of modern Jurisprudence.
Bacon is commemorated with a statue in Gray's Inn, South Square in London where he received his legal training, and where he was elected Treasurer of the Inn in 1608. James McClellan, a political scientist from the University of Virginia, considered Bacon to have had "a great following" in the American colonies.
More recent scholarship on Bacon's jurisprudence has focused on his advocating torture as a legal recourse for the crown. Bacon himself was not a stranger to the torture chamber: in his various legal capacities in both Elizabeth I's and James I's reigns, Bacon was listed as a commissioner on five torture warrants. In 1613(?), in a letter addressed to King James I on the question of torture's place within English law, Bacon identifies the scope of torture as a means to further the investigation of threats to the state: "In the cases of treasons, torture is used for discovery, and not for evidence." For Bacon, torture was not a punitive measure, an intended form of state repression, but instead offered a modus operandi for the government agent tasked with uncovering acts of treason.
Francis Bacon developed the idea that a classification of knowledge must be universal while handling all possible resources. In his progressive view, humanity would be better if the access to educational resources were provided to the public, hence the need to organize it. His approach to learning reshaped the Western view of knowledge theory from an individual to a social interest.
The original classification proposed by Bacon organized all types of knowledge in three general groups: history, poetry, and philosophy. He did that based on his understanding of how information is processed: memory, imagination, and reason, respectively. His methodical approach to the categorization of knowledge goes hand-in-hand with his principles of scientific methods.
Bacon’s writings were the starting point for William Torrey Harris classification system for libraries in the United States by the second half of the 1800s.
The Baconian hypothesis of Shakespearean authorship, first proposed in the mid-19th century, contends that Francis Bacon wrote some or even all of the plays conventionally attributed to William Shakespeare.
Francis Bacon often gathered with the men at Gray's Inn to discuss politics and philosophy, and to try out various theatrical scenes that he admitted writing. Bacon's alleged connection to the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons has been widely discussed by authors and scholars in many books. However, others, including Daphne du Maurier in her biography of Bacon, have argued that there is no substantive evidence to support claims of involvement with the Rosicrucians. Frances Yates does not make the claim that Bacon was a Rosicrucian, but presents evidence that he was nevertheless involved in some of the more closed intellectual movements of his day. She argues that Bacon's movement for the advancement of learning was closely connected with the German Rosicrucian movement, while Bacon's New Atlantis portrays a land ruled by Rosicrucians. He apparently saw his own movement for the advancement of learning to be in conformity with Rosicrucian ideals.
The link between Bacon's work and the Rosicrucians' ideals which Yates allegedly found was the conformity of the purposes expressed by the Rosicrucian Manifestos and Bacon's plan of a "Great Instauration", for the two were calling for a reformation of both "divine and human understanding",[c] as well as both had in view the purpose of mankind's return to the "state before the Fall".[d][e]
Another major link is said to be the resemblance between Bacon's New Atlantis and the German Rosicrucian Johann Valentin Andreae's Description of the Republic of Christianopolis (1619). Andreae describes a utopic island in which Christian theosophy and applied science ruled, and in which the spiritual fulfilment and intellectual activity constituted the primary goals of each individual, the scientific pursuits being the highest intellectual calling—linked to the achievement of spiritual perfection. Andreae's island also depicts a great advancement in technology, with many industries separated in different zones which supplied the population's needs—which shows great resemblance to Bacon's scientific methods and purposes.
While rejecting occult conspiracy theories surrounding Bacon and the claim Bacon personally identified as a Rosicrucian, intellectual historian Paolo Rossi has argued for an occult influence on Bacon's scientific and religious writing. He argues that Bacon was familiar with early modern alchemical texts and that Bacon's ideas about the application of science had roots in Renaissance magical ideas about science and magic facilitating humanity's domination of nature. Rossi further interprets Bacon's search for hidden meanings in myth and fables in such texts as The Wisdom of the Ancients as succeeding earlier occultist and Neoplatonic attempts to locate hidden wisdom in pre-Christian myths. As indicated by the title of his study, however, Rossi claims Bacon ultimately rejected the philosophical foundations of occultism as he came to develop a form of modern science.
Rossi's analysis and claims have been extended by Jason Josephson-Storm in his study, The Myth of Disenchantment. Josephson-Storm also rejects conspiracy theories surrounding Bacon and does not make the claim that Bacon was an active Rosicrucian. However, he argues that Bacon's "rejection" of magic actually constituted an attempt to purify magic of Catholic, demonic, and esoteric influences and to establish magic as a field of study and application paralleling Bacon's vision of science. Furthermore, Josephson-Storm argues that Bacon drew on magical ideas when developing his experimental method. Josephson-Storm finds evidence that Bacon considered nature a living entity, populated by spirits, and argues Bacon's views on the human domination and application of nature actually depend on his spiritualism and personification of nature.
The Rosicrucian organisation AMORC claims that Bacon was the "Imperator" (leader) of the Rosicrucian Order in both England and the European continent, and would have directed it during his lifetime.
Some of the more notable works by Bacon are:
Francis Bacon, the glory of his age and nation, the adorner and ornament of learning, was born in York House, or York Place, in the Strand, on the two and twentieth day of January, in the year of our Lord 1560.
Bacon, Locke and Newton, whose pictures I will trouble you to have copied for me: and as I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical & Moral sciencesCS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
Sir Henry Hobart
| Attorney General of England and Wales
The Viscount Brackley
| Lord High Chancellor of England
|Parliament of England|
| Member of Parliament for Bossiney
With: Robert Redge
Sir Francis Drake
| Member of Parliament for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis
With: Laurence Tomson
| Member of Parliament for Taunton
With: John Goldwell
| Member of Parliament for Liverpool
With: Edward Warren
| Member of Parliament for Middlesex
With: Robert Wroth
Sir John Peyton
| Member of Parliament for Ipswich
With: Michael Stanhope (1597–1604)
Henry Glemham (1604–1614)
| Member of Parliament for Cambridge University
With: Sir Miles Sandys
|Peerage of England|
|New creation|| Baron Verulam
|New creation|| Viscount St Alban
The Baconian theory of Shakespeare authorship holds that Sir Francis Bacon, philosopher, essayist and scientist, wrote the plays which were publicly attributed to William Shakespeare. Various explanations are offered for this alleged subterfuge, most commonly that Bacon's rise to high office might have been hindered were it to become known that he wrote plays for the public stage. Thus the plays were credited to Shakespeare, who was merely a front to shield the identity of Bacon.
Bacon was the first alternative candidate suggested as the author of Shakespeare's plays. The theory was first put forth in the mid-nineteenth century, based on perceived correspondences between the philosophical ideas found in Bacon’s writings and the works of Shakespeare. Later, proponents claimed to have found legal and autobiographical allusions and cryptographic ciphers and codes in the plays and poems to buttress the theory. All academic Shakespeare scholars but a few reject the arguments for Baconian authorship, as well as those for all other alternative authors.
The Baconian theory gained great popularity and attention in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, although since the mid-twentieth century the primacy of his candidacy as author of the Shakespeare canon has been supplanted by that of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Despite the academic consensus that Shakespeare wrote the works bearing his name and the decline of the theory, supporters of Bacon continue to argue for his candidacy through organizations, books, newsletters, and websites.Crucifixion (Francis Bacon, 1965)
Crucifixion is a 1965 triptych painted by the Irish-born artist Francis Bacon. Across each of the three panels, the work shows three forms of violent death.
This triptych was the third such which Bacon painted relating to the Crucifixion, and follows 1944's Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, and the Three Studies for a Crucifixion of 1962. For Bacon images of the crucifixion were "a magnificent armature on which you can [work] about your own feelings and sensations ... You are working on all sorts of very private feelings about behaviour and the way life is".The 1965 work closely follows the 1962 triptych in mood, colour and form, and continues the artist's preoccupation with the imagery of the slaughterhouse. However, whereas the earlier work had an urgency and sense of struggle, the 1965 crucifixion shows defeated and butchered figures splayed on beds and hanging upside down on hooks.
In the left hand panel a human carcass is shown lying on the bed. The figure is covered in splintlike bandages which, according to the art critic Hugh Davies, suggest "the frilly parer collars used by butchers to dress up joints of meat".In the central panel a half human, half animal hybrid figure hangs upside down from an angled scaffold structure. On the right hand canvas, two men are shown watching the scene. They have been described by Davies as possibly being intended as "tormentors, witnesses, or fellow victims".Bacon told David Sylvester,
I've always been very moved by pictures about slaughterhouses and meat, and to me that belong very much to the whole thing of the Crucifixion. There've been extraordinary photographs which have been done of animals just being taken up before they were slaughtered; and the smell of death. We don't know, of course, but it appears by these photographs that they're so aware of what is going to happen to them, they do everything to attempt to escape. I think these pictures were very much based on that kind of thing, which to me is very, very near this whole thing of the Crucifixion. I know for religious people, for Christians, the Crucifixion has a totally different significance. But as a non-believer, it was just an act of man's behaviour to another".Essays (Francis Bacon)
Essayes: Religious Meditations. Places of Perswasion and Disswasion. Seene and Allowed (1597) was the first published book by the philosopher, statesman and jurist Francis Bacon. The Essays are written in a wide range of styles, from the plain and unadorned to the epigrammatic. They cover topics drawn from both public and private life, and in each case the essays cover their topics systematically from a number of different angles, weighing one argument against another. A much-enlarged second edition appeared in 1612 with 38 essays. Another, under the title Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall, was published in 1625 with 58 essays. Translations into French and Italian appeared during Bacon's lifetime.Fragment of a Crucifixion
Fragment of a Crucifixion is an unfinished 1950 painting by the Irish-born figurative painter Francis Bacon. It shows two animals engaged in an existential struggle; the upper figure, which may be a dog or a cat, crouches over a chimera and is at the point of kill. It stoops on the horizontal beam of a T-shaped structure, which may signify Christ's cross. The painting contains thinly sketched passer-by figures, who appear as if oblivious to the central drama.
Typical of Bacon's work, the painting is drawn from a wide variety of sources, including the screaming mouth of the nurse in Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 film Battleship Potemkin and iconography from both the Crucifixion of Jesus and the descent from the cross. The chimera's despair forms the centrepiece of the work; its agony can be compared to Bacon's later works focusing on the motif of an open mouth.
Although the title has religious connotations, Bacon's personal outlook was bleak; as an atheist, he did not believe in either divine intervention nor an afterlife. As such, the work seems to represent a nihilistic and hopeless view of the human condition. He later dismissed the painting, considering it too literal and explicit. He abandoned the theme of the crucifixion for the following 12 years, not returning to it until the more loosely based, but equally bleak, triptych Three Studies for a Crucifixion. The painting is housed in the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, Netherlands.Francis Bacon (artist)
Francis Bacon (28 October 1909 – 28 April 1992) was an Irish-born British figurative painter known for his emotionally charged raw imagery, fixation on personal motifs, and heavy experimentation.
Bacon is best known for his depictions of popes, crucifixions, and portraits of close friends. His abstracted figures are typically isolated in geometrical cages which give them vague 3D depth, set against flat, nondescript backgrounds. Bacon said that he saw images "in series", and his work, which numbers c. 590 extant paintings along with many others he destroyed, typically focuses on a single subject for sustained periods, often in triptych or diptych formats. His output can be broadly described as sequences or variations on single motifs; including the 1930s Picasso-influenced bio-morphs and Furies, the 1940s male heads isolated in rooms or geometric structures, the 1950s screaming popes, the mid-to-late 1950s animals and lone figures, the early 1960s crucifixions, the mid to late 1960s portraits of friends, the 1970s self-portraits, and the cooler more technical 1980s paintings.
Bacon took up painting in his twenties, having drifted in the late 1920s and early 1930s as an interior decorator, bon vivant and gambler. He said that his artistic career was delayed because he spent too long looking for subject matter that could sustain his interest. His breakthrough came with the 1944 triptych Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, which sealed his reputation as a uniquely bleak chronicler of the human condition. From the mid-1960s he mainly produced portraits of friends and drinking companions, either as single or triptych panels. Following the suicide of his lover George Dyer in 1971 his art became more sombre, inward-looking and preoccupied with the passage of time and death. The climax of this later period is marked by masterpieces, including his 1982's "Study for Self-Portrait" and Study for a Self-Portrait—Triptych, 1985–86.
Despite his bleak existentialist outlook, solidified in the public mind through his articulate and vivid series of interviews with David Sylvester, Bacon in person was highly engaging and charismatic, articulate, well-read and openly gay. He was a prolific artist, but nonetheless spent many of the evenings of his middle age eating, drinking and gambling in London's Soho with like-minded friends including Lucian Freud (though the two fell out in the mid-1970s, for reasons neither ever explained), John Deakin, Muriel Belcher, Henrietta Moraes, Daniel Farson, Tom Baker, and Jeffrey Bernard.
After Dyer's suicide he largely distanced himself from this circle, and while his social life was still active and his passion for gambling and drinking continued, he settled into a platonic and somewhat fatherly relationship with his eventual heir, John Edwards. Robert Hughes described Bacon as "the most implacable, lyric artist in late 20th-century England, perhaps in all the world" and along with Willem de Kooning as "the most important painter of the disquieting human figure in the 50s of the 20th century." Francis Bacon was the subject of two Tate retrospectives and a major showing in 1971 at the Grand Palais.
Since his death Bacon's reputation and market value have grown steadily, and his work is among the most acclaimed, expensive and sought-after. In the late 1990s a number of major works, previously assumed destroyed, including early 1950s popes and 1960s portraits, reemerged to set record prices at auction. In 2013 his Three Studies of Lucian Freud set the world record as the most expensive piece of art sold at auction.Influences on Francis Bacon
The painter Francis Bacon was largely self-taught as an artist. As well as other visual artists, Bacon drew inspiration from the poems of T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and Yeats, the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Shakespeare; Proust and Joyce's Ulysses.List of paintings by Francis Bacon
This is an incomplete list of paintings by the Irish-born British painter Francis Bacon (1909 – 1992).New Atlantis
New Atlantis is an incomplete utopian novel by Sir Francis Bacon, published after Bacon's death in 1626. It appeared unheralded and tucked into the back of a longer work of natural history, Sylva sylvarum (forest of materials). In New Atlantis, Bacon portrayed a vision of the future of human discovery and knowledge, expressing his aspirations and ideals for humankind. The novel depicts the creation of a utopian land where "generosity and enlightenment, dignity and splendour, piety and public spirit" are the commonly held qualities of the inhabitants of the mythical Bensalem. The plan and organisation of his ideal college, Salomon's House (or Solomon's House), envisioned the modern research university in both applied and pure sciences. The book presents unlimited power for the rule of self appointed "scientific" experts - for example it is forbidden to even tell ordinary people that the Earth goes round the Sun. There are no legal principles of natural justice (natural law) limiting the power of this elite of "scientific" experts in Sir Francis Bacon's version of utopia.Portrait of George Dyer and Lucian Freud
Portrait of George Dyer and Lucian Freud was a 1967 oil on canvas painting by the Irish-born artist Francis Bacon, which he destroyed before it left his studio, though it was photographed and is highly regarded by art critics. Bacon was a ruthless self critic, and often abandoned paintings mid-work, or slashed finished canvases; something he often later regretted.
The painting is the first to show his lover George Dyer clothed, wearing a jacket, shirt and tie. He is shown in a frenetic manner, full of life, confidence and panache, with his head turning from side to side as he addresses company. The portrait is one of the few to show Dyer as people other than Bacon might have seen him in his prime; charming, engaging and physically attractive. In contrast Lucian Freud is a ball of tension, his hands tightly gripped and placed on his leg. Both men are set in what appears to be a pub, and before heavy green curtains reminiscent of those in Bacon's studio. The linear curtain folds resemble those in Bacon's famed pope series of the 1950.Samuel Ryder Academy
Samuel Ryder Academy (formerly Francis Bacon School) is a mixed all-through school located in St Albans in South Hertfordshire, England.
It is an all-through school with primary and secondary departments for children aged 4 to 19. This includes a sixth form provision which offers students A Levels and BTECs as courses for study.
It is named after Samuel Ryder, the English businessman, entrepreneur, golf enthusiast, and golf promoter who spent many years living and working in St Albans. The school was previously named after Sir Francis Bacon, the Elizabethan polymath (philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, orator, and author) who lived at Old Gorhambury House.
The school's sixth form is part of the Alban Learning Partners, a consortium that includes four other schools in st albans.Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X
Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X is a 1953 painting by the artist Francis Bacon. The work shows a distorted version of the Portrait of Innocent X painted by Spanish artist Diego Velázquez in 1650. The work is one of the first in a series of around 50 variants of the Velázquez painting which Bacon executed throughout the 1950s and early 1960s. The paintings are widely regarded as highly successful modern re-interpretations of a classic of the western canon of visual art.
Of the old masters, Bacon favored Titian, Rembrandt, Velázquez and Francisco Goya's late works. He kept an extensive inventory of images for source material, but preferred not to confront the major works in person; he viewed Portrait of Innocent X only once. Having deliberately avoided it for years, he only saw it in person much later in his life.
The canvas is one of Bacon's masterpieces, completed when he was at the height of his creative powers. It has been the subject of detailed analysis by several major scholars. David Sylvester described it as, along with Head VI, "the finest pope Bacon produced".The Advancement of Learning
The Advancement of Learning (full title: Of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning, Divine and Human) is a 1605 book by Francis Bacon.
It inspired the taxonomic structure of the highly influential Encyclopédie by Jean le Rond d'Alembert and Denis Diderot, and is credited by Bacon's biographer-essayist Catherine Drinker Bowen with being a pioneering essay in support of empirical philosophy.The following passage from The Advancement of Learning was used as the foreword to a popular Cambridge textbook:
So that as Tennis is a game of no use in itself, but of great use in respect it maketh a quick eye, and a body ready to put itself in all positions, so, in the Mathematics the use which is collateral, an intervenient, is no less worthy, than that which is principle and intended.Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion
Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion is a 1944 triptych painted by the Irish-born British artist Francis Bacon. The canvasses are based on the Eumenides—or Furies—of Aeschylus's Oresteia, and depict three writhing anthropomorphic creatures set against a flat burnt orange background. It was executed in oil paint and pastel on Sundeala fibre board and completed within two weeks. The triptych summarises themes explored in Bacon's previous work, including his examination of Picasso's biomorphs and his interpretations of the Crucifixion and the Greek Furies. Bacon did not realise his original intention to paint a large crucifixion scene and place the figures at the foot of the cross.The Three Studies are generally considered Bacon's first mature piece; he regarded his works before the triptych as irrelevant, and throughout his life tried to suppress their appearance on the art market. When the painting was first exhibited in 1945 it caused a sensation and established him as one of the foremost post-war painters. Remarking on the cultural significance of Three Studies, the critic John Russell observed in 1971 that "there was painting in England before the Three Studies, and painting after them, and no one ... can confuse the two".Three Studies for a Crucifixion
Three Studies for a Crucifixion is a 1962 triptych oil painting by Francis Bacon. It was completed in March 1962 and comprises three separate canvases, each measuring 198.1 by 144.8 centimetres (6 ft 6.0 in × 4 ft 9.0 in). The work is held by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.Three Studies of Lucian Freud
Three Studies of Lucian Freud is a 1969 oil-on-canvas triptych by the Irish-born British painter Francis Bacon, depicting artist Lucian Freud. It was sold in November 2013 for US$142.4 million, which at the time was the highest price attained at auction for a work of art when not factoring in inflation. That record was surpassed in May 2015 by Version O of Picasso's Les Femmes d'Alger series.Triptych, May–June 1973
Triptych, May–June 1973 is a triptych completed in 1973 by the Irish-born artist Francis Bacon (1909–1992). The oil-on-canvas was painted in memory of Bacon's lover George Dyer, who committed suicide on the eve of the artist's retrospective at Paris's Grand Palais on 24 October 1971. The triptych is a portrait of the moments before Dyer's death from an overdose of pills in their hotel room. Bacon was haunted and preoccupied by Dyer's loss for the remaining years of his life and painted many works based on both the actual suicide and the events of its aftermath. He admitted to friends that he never fully recovered, describing the 1973 triptych as an exorcism of his feelings of loss and guilt.The work is stylistically more static and monumental than Bacon's earlier triptychs of Greek figures and friends' heads. It has been described as one of his "supreme achievements" and is generally viewed as his most intense and tragic canvas. Of the three Black Triptychs Bacon painted when confronting Dyer's death, Triptych, May–June 1973 is generally regarded as the most accomplished. In 2006, The Daily Telegraph's art critic Sarah Crompton wrote that "emotion seeps into each panel of this giant canvas ... the sheer power and control of Bacon's brushwork take the breath away". Triptych, May–June 1973 was purchased at auction in 1989 by Esther Grether for $6.3 million, then a record for a Bacon painting.Triptychs by Francis Bacon
The Irish-born artist Francis Bacon (1909–1992) painted 28 known triptychs between 1944 and 1986. He began to work in the format in the mid-1940s with a number of smaller scale formats before graduating in 1962 to large examples. He followed the larger style for 30 years, although he painted a number of smaller scale triptychs of friend's heads, and after the death of his former lover George Dyer in 1971, the three Black Triptychs.