David Hockney’s Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime (1969, estimate: £7,000,000-10,000,000) will highlight Christie’s 20th / 21st Century: London Evening Sale on 13 October 2022.
David Hockney’s Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime (1969, estimate: £7,000,000-10,000,000) is a radiant painting that is situated between the artist’s seminal Californian swimming pool paintings and the pioneering ‘naturalistic’ double portraits. Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime will highlight Christie’s 20th / 21st Century: London Evening Sale on 13 October 2022.
The painting is a sublime tribute to the South of France, rendered in exquisite detail. Originally unveiled in London as part of Hockney’s retrospective at the Whitechapel in 1970, the sale will mark the first time that the work has been seen in the capital in more than 50 years. Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime was last seen at auction in New York in 1988.
A global exhibition began in Seoul from 3 to 5 September, before touring Hong Kong from 14 to 16 September and New York from 24 to 28 September. The pre-sale exhibition at Christie’s Headquarters on London’s King Street will take place from 6 to 13 October 2022.
Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime is one of four paintings based on photographs taken during a trip to France with Hockney’s then partner, Peter Schlesinger, in autumn 1968. It was at this time that the pair first spent time in the home of the film director, Tony Richardson, near Saint Tropez. They became regular guests at the lavish parties Richardson threw at ‘Le Nid du Duc’, set in the mountains just outside Le Garde-Freinet.
Hockney had returned to London in 1968 after spending four years in California and the South of France became an instant draw for him and Schlesinger, with its sparkling waters and endless summers, and would come to play a central role in their relationship. It was Richardson’s home that became the setting for Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) when the relationship ended between Hockney and Schlesinger in 1971.
Katharine Arnold, Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s Europe: “In David Hockney’s Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime, we see the artist expressing his feelings of deep contentment and ease as his relationship with Peter Schlesinger was blossoming. This exquisite scene captures the vibrant hues that the sun casts as it rises over the glistening water of the French Riviera. Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime demonstrates Hockney’s masterful ability to translate the multifaceted qualities of water to canvas, something that he had recently achieved to poetic effect in his Californian swimming pool paintings.
The painting also precedes Hockney’s masterpiece, Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), created as the artist came to terms with the heartbreak he endured at the end of the relationship with Peter Schlesinger. The work’s spectacular sweeping reflection seems to echo the gestural drama of his 1967 masterpiece A Bigger Splash (Tate, London). We are delighted to present a seminal painting by one of Britain’s leading artists as a highlight of the Frieze Week auction programme at Christie’s.”
Cristian Albu, Co-Head, 20th and 21st Century Art Department, Christie’s Asia Pacific: “Christie’s has been committed to developing our client base in South Korea since we set up an office in Seoul in 1995. This year, to coincide with our museum-quality exhibition【Flesh and Soul: Bacon/Ghenie】, I am delighted that we will also display such a powerful painting by David Hockney in our first pre-sale exhibition in Seoul. As the art world congregates for Seoul’s dynamic Art Week and the inaugural edition of Frieze art fair in the city, we are sure that this magnificent, early example of Hockney’s explorations of water will resonate with collectors.”
It was Peter Schlesinger who, indirectly, had first prompted Hockney to think about light: a move that brought about a seismic shift in his practice. While painting The Room, Tarzana (1967), a tender portrait of Schlesinger asleep upon a bed, the artist began to perceive light as a subject in its own right. Hockney had broached some of these concerns in his depictions of swimming pools: water ultimately became a repository of light, ever-changing and never static. These concerns came to a head in Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime.
* To coincide with Seoul Art Week, David Hockney’s Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime was on view in BOONTHESHOP – Cheongdam, B1, 21, Apgujeong-ro 60-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul from 3 to 5 September.