David Hockney's Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime

Year: 1969
Medium: Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 122.1 x 152.6cm
Last Realised: £20,899,500
David Hockney’s Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime. An acrylic painting of an early morning seaside view with hues of purple, blue, and pink.Image © Christie’s / Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime © David Hockney 1969
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David Hockney

David Hockney

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David Hockney's Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime captures a tranquil seascape bathed in the soft hues of dawn. This oil on canvas painting portrays the calm waters of Sainte-Maxime, with the rising sun casting a gentle glow over the scene. The muted pastel palette, dominated by shades of pink and blue, creates a serene and contemplative atmosphere. This work is significant within Hockney's oeuvre as it reflects his exploration of light and colour, as well as his ability to evoke a sense of place and time with minimalist composition.


Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime: Meaning & Analysis

Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime exemplifies Hockney's adeptness at capturing the essence of a moment through a refined approach. The composition is marked by its simplicity: the vast expanse of calm water, the faint outlines of boats, and the distant silhouette of buildings create a harmonious balance that draws the viewer into the quietude of the scene. The rising sun, seen through the gentle morning mist, becomes the focal point, infusing the painting with a subtle luminosity.

Hockney's use of a limited colour palette – soft pinks, blues, and purples – enhances the ethereal quality of the early day light. The delicate gradations of colour evoke the gradual transition from night to day, capturing an accurate transition of dawn. This restrained use of colour contrasts with the bolder, more vibrant hues that Hockney often employed in his later works, highlighting his versatility and sensitivity to different atmospheres.

Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime explores the interplay between light and water, a recurrent motif in Hockney's oeuvre. The painting's serene composition and gentle light evoke a sense of stillness and reflection, inviting viewers to contemplate the quiet beauty of the natural world. The depiction of Sainte-Maxime, a small town on the French Riviera, also reflects Hockney's fascination with different locales and his ability to capture their unique atmospheres.

Hockney's precise yet understated brushwork contributes to the painting's relaxing mood. The smooth, almost seamless blending of colours creates a sense of continuity and fluidity, mirroring the calmness of the sea. This technical proficiency underscores Hockney's mastery of his medium, allowing him to convey complex emotions and atmospheres with apparent effortlessness.


Reflections on Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime

Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime holds a notable place in Hockney's career, illustrating his exploration of light and atmosphere during a formative period. The painting has been appreciated for its subtlety and emotional depth, offering a departure from the more dynamic and colourful works that define much of his artistic journey.

The artwork’s restrained colour palette and minimalist composition challenge viewers to appreciate the subtleties of light and shadow, inviting a deeper engagement with the scene. This painting, while less dramatic than some of his later works, demonstrates his capacity to find beauty in stillness and to convey that through his art.

Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime remains a poignant reminder of Hockney's versatility and his ongoing dialogue with the natural world. It encourages viewers to pause and reflect, to find stillness and beauty in the quiet moments of life.

Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime Exhibition History

New York, David Hockney: Paintings and Drawings, André Emmerich Gallery, May 1969

Newcastle upon Tyne, David Hockney: Paintings, drawings and prints, Laing Art Gallery, 1976

London, David Hockney: A Retrospective, Tate Gallery, February 1988

Los Angeles, David Hockney: A Bigger Picture, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, October 2013

London, David Hockney: Paintings, prints and drawings 1960-1970, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1970

Hanover, David Hockney: Paintings, prints and drawings 1960-1970, Kestner Gesellschaft, 1970

Rotterdam, David Hockney: Paintings, prints and drawings 1960-1970, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, 1970

Belgrade, David Hockney: Paintings, prints and drawings 1960-1970, Muzej Savremene Umetnosti, 1970