IT IS one of Yorkshire’s most striking and least-known vistas. Yet few would have put a price of nearly £10m on a painting of it.
Woldgate, a narrow Roman road running the seven miles from Bessingby Hill on the outskirts of Bridlington to the picturesque Yorkshire Wolds village of Kilham, had been trodden for generations before David Hockney immortalised it on six canvases spanning more than 11 feet.
Today, a world away at Sotheby’s in New York, the monumental work went under the hammer for £9.4m, a record even for Hockney.
He had charted the undulating yet gentle Wolds landscape through the seasons in 2006, and since he exhibited a collection of related works at the Royal Academy there has been a Hockey Arts Trail running alongside part of the Wolds Way long-distance footpath.
Much of the Woldgate series remains in Hockney’s own collection, but the Sotheby’s lot, titled Woldgate Woods, 24, 25 and 26 October, 2006, had come from a private collector. Its sale beat Hockney’s previous record of £5.2m for Beverly Hills Housewife, in 2009.
He had painted the work on multiple canvases as a way of achieving the mammoth scale he wanted for the landscape, despite being limited by the size of the staircase at his Bridlington studio.
The Yorkshire artwork showed a radical change in direction for the Bradford-born artist, who is also known for his drawings, print and photography.
Gregoire Billaut, head of Sotheby’s contemporary art department in New York, said: “David Hockney stands alongside Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud as one of the pillars of post-war British art.”
However, Hockney’s paycheck is some way short of the world’s biggest auction grosses.
Last year, a buyer in Qatar paid $300m for Gauguin’s When Will You Marry?, while Interchange, a 1955 work by the abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning, was sold for a similar amount. Five years ago, Paul Cézanne’s The Card Players went for $259m.