Following the 1971 suicide of his lover George Dyer, 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.
His self-portraits in 1973 reflect his loneliness and self-loathing. In an interview with Sylvester in the early 1980s, Bacon admitted his friends had been "dying around me like flies and I've had nobody else to paint but myself ... I loathe my own face, and I've done self-portraits because I've had nothing else to do".