Though perhaps not one of the biggest names when it comes to artist’s record prices, the average value of Howard Hodgkin's prints has experienced a steady 2% growth over the last 5 years, with the typical price paid now reaching £2,887.
The highest price ever paid for a Howard Hodgkin painting was achieved when Goodbye To The Bay Of Naples (1980-2) sold for a staggering £1.7m at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction on October 6th, 2017. The frequent sale of his original paintings at auction for well above £1m continues to be a boosting factor in the sale of his prints on the secondary market.
This article explores the most expensive Howard Hodgkin pieces sold at auction to date.
Goodbye to the Bay of Naples by Howard Hodgkin sold as a part of Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction on October 6th, 2017. The piece was first exhibited as a part of Howard Hodgkin’s presentation for Britain’s pavilion at the XLI Venice Biennale in 1984.
Conceived in 1980-1982, it’s a perfect example of Hodgkin’s mature style and ability to capture complex memories and emotions through rich, gestural brushstrokes. Using a warm palette of yellows, reds greens and blues, the painting evokes the essence of the sun’s last rays shimmering on the Mediterranean sea through a style that oscillates between abstraction and figuration. In his characteristic, innovative style, the artist expands his painterly vision beyond the limitations of the canvas and incorporates its frame into the fiery landscape. Goodbye to the Bay of Naples had been previously acquired by its owner from the Barron Family Collection.
The Green Château by Howard Hodgkin sold as a part of Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction on October 6th, 2017. With its opulent palette of strong primary colours, it’s a prime illustration of Hodgkin’s breakthrough period, executed between 1976-1980.
Challenging the boundaries between painting and frame, the artist covers the latter with a sumptuous, bright red stroke, expanding the limits of the emotive image with a geometric narrative unfolding at its centre. The painting was first exhibited as a part of A New Spirit in Painting at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in 1981 before being included in Hodgkin’s 1984 exhibition at the XLI Venice Biennale, representing Britain. The Green Château had been previously acquired by its owner from the Barron Family Collection.
Howard Hodgkin’s In The Green Room sold at the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction with Christie’s on February 11th, 2015. The painting was created between 1984-1986, at the height of Hodgkin’s career, after he represented Britain at the XLI Venice Biennale (1984) and won the Turner Prize (1985).
It’s one of the largest works ever created by the artist, rendering an abstracted domestic interior in a striking palette of forest green and royal blue, overlaid with a lively orange dotted pattern. The luscious array of dynamic brushstrokes and architectural forms meet in a loosely geometric composition on the canvas. The work is permeated by Hodgkin’s personal and professional joy experienced in this period, when he had just recently met his partner, Antony Peattie. In the Green Room had been acquired by the seller from the Acquavella Galleries in New York.
Out Of The Window by Howard Hodgkins sold at the Bonham’s Post-War and Contemporary Art sale on October 15th, 2021. This striking painting was created by Hodgkin in 2000, and was first exhibited as a permanent display in South London's Dulwich Picture Gallery.
The painting encapsulates the artist’s idiosyncratic use of colour and dynamic, gestural brushstrokes to channel emotions and internal psyche onto multilayered painterly surfaces. The jubilant and lively composition with its jewel-like colour scheme evokes the landscape of India - a lifelong inspiration for Hodgkin, which he returns to over and over again in his ouevre. The painting’s unique frame resembles a window or an eye opening, like a portal, to another dimension.
Venice Rain by Howard Hodgkins sold at the Christie’s London Post-War and Contemporary Evening Auction on October 4th, 2018, from a private American collection.
The painting was executed between 1984-1987, at a breakthrough stage of Howard Hodgkin’s career after he had represented Britain at the Venice Biennale (1984) and won the prestigious Turner Prize (1985). Venice Rain demonstrates Hodgkin’s masterful use of colour to capture complex emotions and a sense of atmosphere on the canvas, and his signature style of incorporating the frame into the finished work.
This landscape evokes the romantic essence of Venice, depicting gloomy brown clouds as they embrace a bold stroke of bright red, framed by contrasting bright yellows and greens. Such joyous tones are reflective of his personal happiness at the time with his partner, Anthony Peattie. Venice Rain was most notably exhibited as a part of a retrospective that travelled to Tate, London, in 2006.
Rhode Island by Howard Hodgkin was sold at the Christie’s London Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on February 12th, 2020. It had been purchased previously by the seller from Gagosian gallery in 2015. The painting was conceived between 2000-2002 as one of the artist’s largest works, first unveiled at his 70th birthday exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
Rhode Island reflects Hodgkin’s masterful skills in composition and use of colour, along with his ability to condense complex emotions and psychological states into carefully layered paintings. Counterbalancing the darker hues of black and navy, he employs vivacious brushstrokes of bright red and orange, overlaid with a lively, dotted pattern, which is in turn framed by sweeping ocean-blue gestures. The work belongs to a group of paintings that mark Hodgkin’s love for America, where he kept returning throughout his career, finding constant inspiration in its landscapes, cities and art.
Among the most marvellous of Howard Hodgkin’s colour studies, Counting the Days was sold at the Sotheby’s London Contemporary Art Evening Auction on the 5th of March, 2019 from the collection of Louis J. C. Tan. It’s an early work, created between 1979 - 1982 and later displayed as a part of Hodgkin’s XLI Venice Biennale presentation and subsequent travelling exhibition over 1984-85.
Using a bright palette of strong primary colours, of bright reds, yellows and blues, this painting is a prime example of Hodgkin's ability to distil complex memories and emotions into painterly landscapes that extend beyond the canvas and into their frame. In the present work, the artist employs a range of expressive techniques from broad, sweeping gestures to small dots and precisely elegant, curved lines around the painted frame, reminiscent of flower petals.
Bombay Sunset was sold at Christie’s London as a part of their Jeremy Lancaster collection sale on October 1st, 2019. In this masterpiece, Hodgkin channels India’s warm colour palette into this precisely constructed, evocative composition. The artist found life-long inspiration in the colours and landscape of the country, which he had visited annually from 1964. The bright red of the sunset pours out onto the frame of the canvas, drawing the viewer’s gaze to the architectural composition at its centre, divided into three distinct sections with different colours and patterns - bright green with small, orange dots at the top, a wavering stroke of brown, red and orange in the middle, and a lined, rich brown base reminiscent of the earth.
Bombay’s warmth is intrinsic to this tactile, captivating landscape, which was displayed at the British Pavilion for Hodgkin’s exhibition at the XLI Venice Biennale in 1984.
In Raimund Stecker’s Garden by Howard Hodgkin was sold at Christie’s New York, as a part of their Post-War and Contemporary Art Afternoon Sale in 2016, November 16. The title references Raimund Stecker, now director of the Arp Museum, Remagen, who was formerly director of the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Dusseldorf at the time of Hodgkin’s exhibition there in 1995.
Conceived between 1998-2001, this painting captures the serenity and beauty of Stecker’s luscious garden in an abstracted composition, using vibrant hues of red, yellow and blue. Hodgkin characteristically extends his landscape beyond the canvas and onto its frame, coated with rich, deep green brushstrokes. Each individual brushstroke required months of careful preparation for Hodgkin’s process, who had gradually layered these into the finished painting. In Raimund Stecker’s Garden is an example of Hodgkin’s atmospheric paintings that condense the essence of transient moments into a painterly masterpiece.
House by Howard Hodgkin was sold at the Sotheby’s London Contemporary Art Evening Auction on October 5th, 2017. The seller had previously acquired it from a Sotheby’s auction in 2008. Executed over a two-year period between 2005 and 2007, the painting revolutionised the modern European tradition of colour and the pointillist techniques of George Seurat and Paul Signac. In a dynamic, playful whirlwind of orange and red dots, Hodgkin elevates the motif into the visual protagonist of this image, instead of a mere aesthetic tool.
Inspired by the interiors of Henri Matisse and Edgar Degas, House channels Hodgkin’s memories from his early years spent in New York during the Second World War into the warmly energetic composition. The painting is also informed by the popular American folk song, Home on the Range, which the artist listened to at the time. As a radical re-imagination of Modernist painting, House is a unique masterpiece.