Defined by its delicate coloring and technical mastery of line, this tender portrait is an exquisite example of the intimate series of colored pencil and crayon drawings David Hockney produced of his closest friends and family while living in Paris in the early 1970s. As Paul Melia has explained: “Indeed this series of portrait drawings provides evidence of Hockney’s attempt to re-orientate his practice as an artist, to establish a sense of contact with the work of individual past ‘masters’ and with the European tradition” (“The Drawings of David Hockney” in Exh. Cat., London, Royal Academy of Arts (and traveling), David Hockney, A Drawing Retrospective
, 1996, p. 22). Hockney was introduced to the sitter, Linda Abrams, by the distinguished British art dealer and collector John Kasmin. This drawing encapsulates the distinctive naturalism and growing sensitivity that characterizes Hockney’s work of this period.
Hockney’s Paris drawings illustrate the influence of a century of French art, as Ingres, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse and Balthus are all evoked by these portraits. The present work, executed in a studio that had once belonged to Balthus, takes particular inspiration from that enigmatic modern artist: one of Hockney’s rare female nudes, the depiction is at once academically technical and intimately sensual. Classically posed, adroitly translated, and fully rendered, Study of L.A., Paris is a work of consummate draughtsmanship that belongs to the highest tier of portraits by the artist.