Rare David Hockney Egyptian painting set for £3.5 million Christie’s sale

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2015-06-26 10:45:21

Rare David Hockney Egyptian painting set for £3.5 million Christie’s sale

The forthcoming Christie’s Post-War & Contemporary Art sale will include a highly unique and important work by David Hockney.

He may be best-known for his depictions of L.A swimming pools, but the British artist was originally captivated by another far-flung location – Egypt.

Hockney’s passion for ancient Egyptian art was inspired by trips to the British Museum, and his works were already exhibiting its influence before he made his first trip to the country in 1963.

In a visit sponsored by the Sunday Times and art curator David Sylvester, Hockney travelled to Egypt after his graduation from the Royal College of Art and completed 40 works on paper whilst there. Describing his visit, he said:

“Egypt is one of the most thrilling countries I’ve ever been to in the sense that these monuments are the oldest known buildings anywhere. After all, when Cleopatra showed Julius Caesar the pyramids, they were already two thousand years old and more. It is quite awe-inspiring; not even in China are there things older, and I think you feel connected with them, whoever you are.”

Despite having sponsored the trip, the Sunday Times shelved the story in favour of coverage of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The drawings were published by the paper for the first time in December 2012, almost 50 years later.

Apart from these drawings, just one canvas, completed on his return to the U.K, survived to mark his journey – ‘Great Pyramid at Giza with Broken Head from Thebes’.

The large-scale work was initially exhibited as part of Hockney’s inaugural one-man show, and has since been included in numerous international exhibitions. After spending over 40 years as part of an important British collection, the work will appear at auction for the first time in its history at Christie’s next month.

“We are extremely privileged to be offering this landmark painting by David Hockney at auction for the very first time,” said Francis Outred, Christie's European Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art. “Great Pyramid at Giza with Broken Head from Thebes holds a unique place in the artist’s oeuvre, being the only surviving canvas created following his trip to Egypt in 1963.”

“The style of the painting is unmistakably Hockney, the artist breaking up the foreground with a piece of piping, forming a stark contrast to the broken Head of Thebes lying buried in the sand. In doing so, the artist was drawing a clear link between ancient and modern, the human and natural landscape.”

‘Great Pyramid at Giza with Broken Head from Thebes’ will be offered for sale at Christie’s in London on February 13, with an estimate price of £2.5 - £3.5 million.

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