Lucian Freud’s Portrait of David Hockney to Lead Sotheby’s London Modern & Contemporary Art Auction, Estimated at Upwards of US$11m

Scheduled for June 29, Sotheby’s British Art Evening Sale: Modern/ Contemporary in London will be spearheaded by a David Hockney portrait by Lucian Freud. The two titans of British art came together in a single artwork, which is making its auction debut and estimated to go for upwards of £8m (US$11.1m). 

The marquee sale will offer a total of 33 lots that chart the development of modern and contemporary British art, including a spectrum of globally renowned masters and lesser known artists. 

Lot 10 | Lucian Freud, David Hockney

Painted in 2002
Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 40.6 x 31.1 cm

  • Acquavella Galleries, New York
  • Private Collection, New York
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: £8,000,000 - 12,000,000 


The present painting by Lucian Freud is a meeting of minds that spanned 40 years of shared admiration between the two influential British artists of the 20th century, Lucian Freud and David Hockney.

Painted in 2002, when Freud was 80 years old and Hockney was 65, the peer-to-peer portrait provides a fascinating window into the narrative of an episodic friendship of centuries. Over the course of four months in the summer of 2002, and more than a hundred hours of sitting, the result was a private exchange between artist and sitter. 

Lucian Freud (right) and David Hockney (left), photographed by Freud’s assistant David Dawson in 2002 

Closer look at the present work, titled David Hockney

The portrait captures Hockney’s face close up, in thoughtful repose. Peering over his round spectacles as if he were the artist looking at his subject. His face dominates the canvas and the brushstrokes forge much energy and a conversation with the viewer. 

Unseen by the public since Freud’s exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery in London and Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in Texas in 2012, the artwork is making its auction debut, where it will be offered with an estimate of £8m to £12m (US$11.1m - US$16.7m).

Born in Berlin in 1922, Freud is known for his evocative portrait paintings marked by thick paint application. Painting at first, those who were within his inner circle, a 1987 traveling retrospective catapulted him to international fame. He had subsequently done a number of high-profile portraits, including Queen Elizabeth II during 2000 and 2001. 

Lucian Freud’s portrait of Queen Elizabeth II | Royal Collection (Buckingham Palace), London

Lot 15 | Peter Doig, Blue Mountain

Painted in 1996
Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 200 x 274.9 cm

  • Gavin Brown's Enterprise, New York 
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1996

Estimate: £5,000,000 - 7,000,000 


The present work by contemporary Scottish artist Peter Doig depicts a snow-capped mountain expanse viewed from afar. The viewpoint hovers vertiginously on the edge of a precipice and the white snow shimmers in an iridescent and almost hallucinatory color palette, in the form of patches of ice that appear purple and the high-altitude light rendered in pink in the midst of a turquoise canvas.

The Edinburgh-born artist spent his childhood between Scotland, the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Canada. Snow and the Canadian scenery are some of the most recurring subjects in Doig’s works of the early 1990s, including the present monumental one that measures 200 by 274.9 cm, one of his largest works of snow scenes. 

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s The Adoration of the Magi in the Snow (1567) 

Doig once spoke about his visual repertoire: “When I was making the ‘snow’ paintings I was looking at Monet, where there is this incredibly extreme, apparently exaggerated use of color,” he said. Another artistic influence was from one of his favorite paintings, The Adoration of the Magi in the Snow (1567) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, which in particular, inspired him to the treatment of snow and his technique. 

Lot 8 | Peter Doig, Bomb Island

Painted in 1991
Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 200 x 302.8 cm

  • Victoria Miro Gallery, London
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1995 

Estimate: £3,000,000 - 5,000,000


Another atmospheric work by Doig and expected to fetch between £3m to £5m (US$4.2m - US$7m), Bomb Island depicts an abandoned island surrounded by an expanse of dark, murky waters. The arid landscape creates an indefinite narrative in a fraught atmosphere.

The looming presence of the ravaged island invites comparison with Arnold Böcklin’s ominous Symbolist masterpiece Die Toteninsel. The architectural detail on the other hand recalls the consummate, imaginary world landscape of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s The Tower of Babel.

Arnold Böcklin’s Die Toteninsel (1880) | Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s The Tower of Babel 

Lot 9 | David Hockney, The Chair

Patined in 1985
Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 122 x 91 cm

  • Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York 
  • Nohra Haime Gallery, New York (acquired from the above in 1994) 
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner 

Estimate: £2,000,000 - 3,000,000


Filled with a liberating zest that often defines Hockney’s painterly approach, but fuses with an eloquent tribute to past masters such as Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin and Pablo Picasso, The Chair encapsulates vitality through a vibrant palette: blue and brownish red pairing for the chair meets with the bright orange and yellow hues for the floor that flattens the picture plane to give room for the empty chair - a familiar motif within Hockney’s oeuvre. 

Hockney is long considered one of the most prolific artists of the 20th century. The artist is best known for his landscapes, still life paintings, and portraits. Having worked with mediums from oil, acrylic, to most recently, iPads, Hockney often challenges the rules of proportions, linear perspective, and color theory. 

Lot 13 | Laurence Stephen Lowry, R.A., Going to the Match

Painted in 1928
Oil on canvas

  • Unframed: 43 x 53.5 cm
  • Framed: 70 x 80 cm


  • Private Collection, UK, from whom acquired by Crane Kalman Gallery, London in 1970
  • Acquired from the above by the present owners in May 1972

Estimate: £2,000,000 - 3,000,000


Going to the Match by Lowry captures a crowd making their way past grey factories and a billowing chimney on a cold, drab day. The present work is one of the earliest examples in the artist’s oeuvre, that fully demonstrates his fascination with the movement of people - a subject that developed throughout his career. 

Closer look at the present work

The rugby league match was the first sporting subject in Lowry’s oeuvre. The sporting crowd, rather than the game, takes center stage in his works, as the artists saw match days as a perfect opportunity to paint crowds in action. Individual characters are drawn out amongst figures that form the crowd across the canvas. 

Lowry’s artistic approach goes beyond a photographic rendering of a match but to project an honest and enduring apparel - one that transcends time that feels relevant. “I maintain - from observation - that if you see a crowd of people coming from a football match, they look exactly the same as they did 50 years ago. I’m convinced of that,” the artist once said. 

Other highlights of the sale include:

Lot 17 | Edward Burra, War in the Sun

Painted in 1938
Pencil, ink, and watercolor on paper

  • Unframed: 112 x 156 cm
  • Framed: 133.5 x 179 cm


  • Gerald Corcoran, Esq., London, from whom acquired by The Rt Hon the Lord Walston, C.V.O., circa 1945
  • His sale, Sotheby's London, May 13, 1992, lot 49, where acquired by a private collector
  • Lefevre Fine Art, London, from whom acquired by the present owner in 2005

Estimate: £1,800,000 - 2,500,000

Lot 4 | David Hockney, Gladioli with Two Oranges

Painted in 1996
Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 65.4 x 81.2 cm

  • Annely Juda Fine Art, London
  • Acquired from the above by the late owner in 1997

Estimate: £1,500,000 - 2,000,000

Lot 38 | Banky, Girl with Balloon

Executed in 2003
Spray paint on canvas
Number 24 from an edition of 25
Dimensions: 40.5 x 40.5 cm

  • Kindit Ltd T/AS PYMCA, London
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner in March 2004

Estimate: £1,000,000 - 1,500,000

Lot 31 | Ben Nicholson, Painting 1935

Painted in 1935
Oil on canvas

  • Unframed: 63 x 93.5cm
  • Framed: 66.5 x 98cm


  • Sir John Leslie Martin
  • Waddington Galleries, London
  • Annely Juda Fine Art, London, 1976
  • CHASA Holdings (Jersey) Ltd., 1976
  • Annely Juda Fine Art, London, 1979
  • Waddington Galleries, London, 1979
  • Annely Juda Fine Art, London, 1983
  • Private Collection, Hamburg
  • Annely Juda Fine Art, London, 2010, where acquired by the present owner

Estimate: £700,000 - 900,000

Lot 28 | Damien Hirst, Biotin-Propranolol Analog

Executed in 1995
Household gloss on canvas 
Dimensions: 335.3 x 518.2 cm

  • White Cube, London
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1996

Estimate: £650,000 - 850,000 


Dates: June 22 - 29, 2021

Auction Details:

Auction house: Sotheby’s London
Dates: June 29, 2021
Sale: British Art Evening Sale: Modern/Contemporary