The view of the Grand Canyon from 1998 comprised 15 oils on canvas measuring a combined 5ft 6in (1.67m) wide. It was in fact a study for a larger work, A Bigger Grand Canyon, which is over four times the size and is housed in the National Gallery of Australia.
Sotheby’s described 15 Canvas Study of the Grand Canyon as “one of the greatest David Hockney landscapes in private hands” and it was estimated at £3.8m-5m at the auction last night (October 5). It had previously appeared in the major retrospective of the artist’s work at Tate Britain in London earlier this year.
It came to auction from a vendor who acquired it from Los Angeles gallery L.A. Louver the year after it was painted and had never been offered at auction before.
After drawing a decent bidding competition on the night that took it above its top estimate, it was eventually knocked down at £5.2m to a private collector.
The price was the second highest for the artist at auction, although it was still some way behind the record $10.2m (£8.2m) set by his Yorkshire landscape Woldgate Woods from 2006 that sold at Sotheby’s New York in November last year.
The Sotheby’s sale was led by an untitled work by Cy Twombly despite the 1962 oil and graphite on canvas drawing less competition and selling just above its low estimate at £5.55m
Overall, 39 of the 43 lots at the Contemporary art auction sold (88%) and Sotheby’s posted a further £18.4m (including premium) from the 45-lot Italian sale staged on the same day.
Christie’s contemporary art evening sale takes place tonight with a number of big-ticket items on offer, including one of Francis Bacon’s (1909-1992) paintings from his famous Pope series estimated at £60m-80m.