First major Hockney sale set to rake in £500,000

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Bonhams hope the sale, including A Rake's Progress (1961), a modern telling of Hogarth's 18th-century moral satire (expected sale price £40,000), will raise £500,000 and said yesterday it coincided with stronger than ever demand for his work.

The Bradford-born artist's Seated Women Being Served Tea fetched £1.8m at Sotheby's earlier this year, the highest sum ever for one of his pieces. His 1966 Portrait of Nick Wilder, one of the swimming pool scenes typical of Hockney's work at that time, went for a similar sum in New York three years ago, while even so-called "peripheral works" have also been popular - one enthusiast paid £11,000 for a kitchen blind pasted with photocopies of faxed drawings by Hockney.

The sale, scheduled for October, will include an eclectic mix of Hockney's repertoire, including the photo-collage, Billy Wilder Smoking a Cigar and Man Ray, a lithograph from 1974. So difficult are works from the likes of Hockney to come by that the current Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is focusing on his prints - the best way to lay your hands on a famous name at an affordable price.

With half of the estimated final catalogue already secured, the Bonhams sale will attempt to suit a variety of pockets. Pieces still being sought include a collection of Christmas cards Hockney produced in 1957 and an early oil painting of his barber known to be owned by a collector. It is also hoped that some of Hockney's later work in Los Angeles will also form part of the final catalogue.

Collectors may be excited by a group portfolio set, Six Fairy Tales from The Brothers Grimm (1970), which is presented as a complete book with text and 39 etchings and is priced at between £4,000 and £6,000. The illustrations were inspired by six of the Grimms' most gruesome fairy tales. True to his hallmark style, Hockney's work captures the mood or detail of the tales, rather than the main event.

Pieces from Yorkshire also seem to be a little short on the ground. "Perhaps because of his Yorkshire roots, people are very proud of his pieces and want to keep them in the county," said Robert Kennan, head of the Bonhams print department. "We have a very good foundation for the sale and have secured some very important pieces, but we still have gaps to fill in his history of being a print-maker. Hockney's work does span a broad range in terms of value and we don't want to make it very exclusive. We want it to be accessible so anyone can come along and buy a Hockney."

A resident of California since the 1960s, Hockney has been spending more time in Britain of late, much of it with his 70-year-old sister Margaret, also an artist, at Bridlington, on the Yorkshire coast. The artist, who has been informed of the exhibition, does not always take well to commercialisation of his work. When he heard of the kitchen blind faxes, he faxed around similar sets in a vain attempt to undermine the proceedings.