Friday, 20 November 2020

David Hockney’s Portrait of Sir David Webster

David Hockney’s Portrait of Sir David Webster

We are proud to see that through the generosity of DRF Chair, David Ross, celebrated British artist David Hockney’s Portrait of Sir David Webster will be returning to its original home at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London. The painting will remain available to the British public and will also be loaned to the National Portrait Gallery for its reopening exhibition in 2023.


David Hockney’s Portrait of Sir David Webster was an important commission paying tribute to Sir David Webster, the visionary former General Administrator of the Royal Opera House and a defining influence on the cultural life of this country. Painted in 1971 and rendered on a grand scale, Hockney depicts Webster in his studio, seated upon a Mies van der Rohe ‘MR’ chair before a glass table. The work unites Hockney’s flair for human observation with his lifelong passion for opera. From 1975 until 1992, David Hockney would design sets for venues including Glyndebourne, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Royal Opera House itself. Inviting stylistic comparison with Hockney’s seminal double portraits produced between 1968 and 1975, Portrait of Sir David Webster demonstrates the meticulous exploration of space, perspective, lighting and compositional drama that would eventually come to inform his theatrical endeavours. 


David Ross said: “The arts have had an incredibly difficult year, with many institutions having to make extremely tough decisions in order to survive. Before I joined as its new chair, the Royal Opera House decided that it would sell this wonderful painting by David Hockney in order to sustain its community of artists and bring the world’s greatest performers back to the stage once again. This was one of the key parts of the Royal Opera House’s four point strategy to help it navigate the worst crisis in its history.
 
“As the Chairman of the Royal Opera House and the National Portrait Gallery I care deeply about the arts being as accessible as possible and their educational value. So, I decided to participate in the auction to secure the painting for the British public.
 
“This painting celebrates the key role Sir David Webster played in establishing the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera companies. It is fitting that Webster has helped to preserve the organisation he so lovingly built.
 
“I hope that the painting will continue to be enjoyed by art lovers and opera goers for many years to come. I am also delighted that the National Portrait Gallery has agreed to include it in its re-opening exhibition in 2023.”

DRF supports a number of organisations and projects across a range of artistic fields and is an ardent supporter of providing greater access to the arts for all.