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Christie's to offer David Hockney's Sur la Terrasse, 1971 unseen by the public for 46 years
David Hockney, Sur la Terrasse, 1971 (Estimate: $25-45 million). Now on view to the public at Christie’s Los Angeles for the first time since 1973. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.

NEW YORK, NY.- On November 13, Christie’s will offer David Hockney’s Sur la Terrasse, 1971 ($25-45 million) as a central highlight of its Evening Sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art. A glowing sun-drenched vision rendered on a spectacular life-sized scale, Sur la Terrasse stands among David Hockney’s most poignant works. Begun in March 1971, and completed that summer, it was painted during the decline of his relationship with Peter Schlesinger: his first love and greatest muse. This turn of events became a milestone in the artist’s personal life, precipitating an intense period that resulted in heart-wrenching expression in his paintings.

The present work has occupied a single private collection for nearly half a century and has never appeared at auction. On October 15, Sur la Terrasse will go on view at Christie’s Los Angeles, marking the first time that it will be seen in public since 1973.

Ana Maria Celis, Head of Evening Sale, Post-War and Contemporary Art, remarked: “Sur la Terrasse is an extraordinarily beautiful work, which provides a window into the conclusion of David Hockney’s relationship with his muse and longtime love, Peter Schlesinger. This work marks a momentous turning point in the artist’s personal and professional lives. The tenderness and nostalgia of this moment is unmistakable in Schlesinger’s position with his back facing the artist, as he looks into the wilds that lie beyond their hotel terrace in Marrakesh. We are very pleased to be bringing Sur la Terrasse to market and into the public eye after residing within a private collection for nearly 40 years, where it went unseen by the public for almost as long.”

Infused with longing and romance, Sur la Terrasse represents Hockney’s last depiction of Schlesinger during their time together. It is based on a series of photographs taken on the balcony of the couple’s room at the Hôtel de la Mamounia in Marrakesh, where they had spent two weeks in February. Viewed through open French windows, Schlesinger stands with his back to the artist, bathed in long shadows. Lush gardens bloom before him, as if enticing him to exotic new pastures. Positioning himself beyond the picture frame, Hockney casts himself as a voyeur, bidding a private farewell to his lover. It is a deeply moving portrait of estrangement, whose themes would be revisited in the iconic 1972 painting Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures).

Sur la Terrasse and its studies, one of which is held in the Arts Council Collection in London, featured in Jack Hazan’s 1974 documentary A Bigger Splash, which he began filming during this period.

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