Drawing a Legend

Hockney's Portrait of Sir John Gielgud

David Hockney's portrait of the famed actor Sir John Gielgud — who is often referred to as "the epitome of Englishness" — shows the legendary figure in his old age, with an intimacy and reverence that is typical of Hockney's sparse but electrifying line portraits of this era. Gielgud first rose to prominence in the early 1950s as a Shakespearean stage actor; his portrayal of Hamlet is seen as definitive in the canon and he was knighted in 1953 for his contributions to English theater.

Hockney likely first met Gielgud at director Tony Richardson's villa near St. Tropez, Le Nid de Duc, where British artists, writers, fashion designers, actors and socialites gathered in the summers in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Hockney drew many of his close friends during these rousing vacations and Le Nid de Duc served as the setting for some of his most famous works, including Portrait Of An Artist (Pool With Two Figures).

Sir John Gielgud as Hamlet, a role he first portrayed in 1930.

Gielgud would have been a good deal older than most of his companions at Le Nid de Duc and was already in the second act of his career, where he took on more comedic roles in movies and television. In the present lot, Hockney captures Gielgud's English properness, dressed in a tie and suit, replete with pocket square, and exaggerates the actor's forehead, which hovers prominently over a pair of wary, discerning eyes and a small, meticulous smile. Gielgud was also known for his wit and charm and as a somewhat secretive, subversive figure — he was closeted for most of his early career, when being gay was still a punishable offense in England. Hockney hints at these characteristics in the delightful rumple of the sleeves, the askant pinky ring and buttons, and the fussy, urbane positioning of Gielgud's hands and body. Channeling the quintessentially self-effacing and wry English sensibility, Gielgud later said: "David Hockney did a drawing of me when I was 70 and I thought that if I really looked like that, I must kill myself tomorrow."

David & Vivian Campbell

20th Century Collectors and Philanthropists

David and Vivian Campbell were prominent philanthropists of the arts in Canada and collectors of early modern masters. Over the course of half a century, David and Vivian built a collection around intimate and dazzling works by giants of early 20th century art—Picasso, Matisse, Gris, Gauguin, Munch and Rodin among them—as well as later 20th century artists such as Will Barnet, Saul Steinberg and David Hockney, who grew out of the traditions of earlier masters, with a reverence for landscape and portraiture.

The scope of the century, along with the Campbells' distinct tastes within its vastness, are presented in the selection offered here; a landscape study of Le Pont Neuf by Paul Signac from 1895, the earliest work in the sale, shares the same musicality of color as Andy Warhol's screenprint of Beethoven from nearly one hundred years later. Portraits by Matisse and Hockney, done forty years apart, both present subjects that are quirky and grounded, executed with an economy and confidence of line. Irving Penn photographs Igor Stravinsky with the same adulatory nod seen in a portrait by André Kertész of his predecessor, Brassaï. An exuberant collage by Picasso celebrates the birth of his son, while Old Man's Afternoon by Will Barnet meditates on loss and aging. A thread evident throughout the selection is the ability for the art that we love to reflect the life that we live.

David and Vivian Campbell in their home in Toronto, 1997,
with Picasso's Jacqueline tricottant. Image: Jeff Goode.

David Hockney b. 1937

David Hockney is considered one of the most influential artists of the 20th century and of the British pop art movement. A painter, printmaker, stage designer, and photographer, his unmistakable style breaks boundaries both in the rules of art and across multiple artistic movements. Born in 1937 in Bradford, England he studied at the Royal College of Art, but did not graduate on account of declining to submit an essay along with his final work. In the 1960s, his bright, figurative paintings of Los Angeles swimming pools accompanied by Californian landscapes as wells as personal subject matter including portraits of friends ignited his career. In 1963, at the age of 26, he had his first one-man show and in 1970 the White Chapel Gallery exhibited his first retrospective.

In the early 1980s, he began working in photocollage, or “joiners” as he called them, exploring movement and photography. In a recent 2016 exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, Hockney debuted a series of works created on the iPhone and iPad exhibiting his love for technology.

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