Artwork by David Hockney,  Nehemiah Checking the Walls of Jerusalem

David Hockney
Nehemiah Checking the Walls of Jerusalem

ink on paper
signed and inscribed “for Paul on his Birthday, April 27th 1966” lower right; titled “Study for Book of Nehemiah” and dated on a gallery label on the backing on the reverse
20 x 12.5 ins ( 50.8 x 31.8 cms ) ( sheet )

Auction Estimate: $16,000.00$12,000.00 - $16,000.00

Price Realized $102,000.00
Sale date: June 8th 2023

Laura Hockney
Paul Miranda
Albert White Gallery, Toronto
Canadian Corporate Collection
“David Hockney: Drawings and Prints”, Davis & Long Company, New York, 7-25 June 1976, no. 10
David Hockney, “David Hockney”, London, 1977, page 124, reproduced page 136
Although he was not known as a religious artist, David Hockney was asked in the mid‒1960s to do biblical drawings. He describes the project as follows, “In 1966 I did some drawings for the Oxford Illustrated Bible. They’d asked a few artists, emphasizing that you didn’t have to be a Christian; they didn’t expect you to be pious. So I agreed to do it. Mine was the Book of Nehemiah, about the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and the original drawings are done all on one page like a comic strip. I did them quite quickly. They make no references to anything; they’re completely made up out of my head. I used Muybridge to help draw the figures if there was a difficult pose. They’re just simple and direct. My mother, a keen Christian, has them now."

Interestingly, Hockney references Eadweard Muybridge for this series, a pioneering nineteenth century photographer who was obsessed with capturing movement and motion in humans and animals. Here the two posed figures appear to float on a simplified dais set in a stripped-down background. Hockney’s quick but reserved use of black lines does give the work an illustrative cartoon-like quality. On closer inspection, we find in the lower right corner a dedication to Paul Miranda for his birthday. Paul came into Hockney’s life and would become an important subject in his work of the following years.

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David Hockney