Portrait, Sir David Webster
David Hockney
Portrait, Sir David Webster
David Hockney (British, Contemporary, b. 1937): Portrait, Sir David Webster; 1971. Oil on canvas. Covent Garden Opera House Collection, London, UK. © David Hockney. © This artwork may be protected by copyright. It is posted on the site in accordance with fair use principles.



' "Art's subject is the human clay," W. H. Auden wrote in his long "Letter to Lord Byron."



Hockney loves the passage and quotes it often:

"To me Art's subject is the human clay,

And landscape but a background to a torso;

All Cézanne's apples I would give away

For one small Goya or a Daumier."



... The history of Western art has produced two basic types of portraitist. On the one hand, the professional brush for hire, who specializes in the rich and mighty: Hans Holbein the Younger, say, or Frans Hals, Sir Anthony Van Dyck or John Singer Sargent. Then there are the inveterate students of human nature: Albrecht Dürer, Michelangelo, Rembrandt van Rijn, Vincent van Gogh. Hockney places himself squarely in the latter camp: a portraitist for art’s sake. The commissions he has accepted over the decades are scarcely enough to count on the fingers of one hand.'

(Matthew Gurewitsch, © Smithsonian Magazine)



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