David Hockney's Portrait Of Sir David Webster

Year: 1971
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 152.8 x 184.5cm
Last Realised: £12,865,000
David Hockney’s Portrait Of Sir David Webster. An oil on canvas portrait of the side profile of a seated man wearing a green suit in front of a pink bouquet of tulips. Image © Christie’s / Portrait Of Sir David Webster © David Hockney 1971
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David Hockney

David Hockney

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Portrait Of Sir David Webster is a striking example of David Hockney’s continued exploration of portraiture. Executed in acrylic on canvas, this work features Sir David Webster, a pivotal figure in the history of the Royal Opera House. The painting depicts Webster seated in an interior space, rendered with Hockney’s characteristic bold colours and meticulous attention to detail. This piece holds particular significance as it reflects Hockney's ongoing engagement with prominent figures, showcasing his ability to convey personality and presence through portraiture. The work marks a continuation of Hockney's long-standing interest in opera while also capturing the essence of his subjects.

Portrait of Sir David Webster: Meaning & Analysis

In Portrait Of Sir David Webster, Hockney masterfully combines a sense of realism with his unique stylistic flair. The composition is dominated by the seated figure of Webster, whose poised and dignified presence commands attention. The background, a carefully rendered interior, is filled with details that allude to Webster's esteemed position in the arts. The use of light and shadow adds depth, while the vibrant colour palette enlivens the scene, creating a dynamic interplay between figure and setting.

Hockney’s treatment of Webster’s features is both respectful and revealing, capturing not just a likeness but a sense of character. The slight smile and attentive gaze suggest a man of intellect and charm, qualities that defined Webster’s contributions to the cultural landscape. The precise yet expressive brushwork highlights Hockney's skill in blending fine detail with broader, more gestural strokes.

Themes of legacy and influence are evident in this portrait. Hockney’s choice of Webster as a subject underscores the artist's appreciation for those who have shaped the arts. This work can be seen as a homage to the significant impact Webster had on the Royal Opera House and the broader cultural community. The portrait aligns with Hockney's broader oeuvre, where he often explores the intersections of personal identity and public legacy.

The technical aspects of the painting further demonstrate Hockney's innovation. His use of acrylics allows for vibrant, saturated colours, which are applied with a precision that still feels spontaneous. The play of light across Webster’s face and clothing creates a lifelike quality, while the background elements provide context without overwhelming the central figure. This balance showcases Hockney’s ability to create complex, layered compositions that invite viewers to engage deeply with the subject.

Reflections on Hockney’s Portrait of Sir David Webster

Portrait Of Sir David Webster not only highlights Webster's contributions but also serves as a reflection of Hockney's own journey. This piece exemplifies contemporary portraiture by demonstrating how traditional subjects can be portrayed through a modern lens. It underscores Hockney's dedication to capturing human character and presence in his art, a theme central to his oeuvre for decades.

The painting's influence transcends its visual allure, offering insights into the dynamic between artist and subject. It prompts viewers to reflect on how individuals shape the cultural landscape and how art immortalises these contributions. Hockney's skill in conveying depth and nuance in portraiture reinforces his status as a leading figure in contemporary art, constantly redefining the boundaries of his medium.

Portrait of Sir David Webster Exhibition History

Paris, David Hockney: Tableaux et Dessins, Musée des Arts Décoratifs

Paris, David Hockney: Tableaux et Dessins, Palais du Louvre, 1974

Tokyo, English Portraits from Francis Bacon, the Philosopher to Francis Bacon, the Painter, National Museum of Western Art, 1975

Boston, David Hockney Portraits, Museum of Fine Arts, 2006-2007

Woking, David Hockney: Ways of Working, The Lightbox, 2020

London, David Hockney: Drawing from Life, National Portrait Gallery, February 2020

London, David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020, Royal Academy of Arts, May 2021