Londoner’s Diary: Maggi Hambling ‘gift’ shows even great artists still have to earn a living

Maggi Hambling is a maverick — right down to gift giving. The artist once delighted someone she worked with on a sold-out exhibition by saving a painting for them, we hear.

“They came to her house and there was a painting on the mantlepiece, and she said, ‘I’ve saved this one for you’. So, you can imagine they were terribly glad,” a source tells us.

Their joy lasted right up until the moment Hambling, who recently divided critics with her silver, naked, Mary Wollstonecraft sculpture, told them they could have the work — at a discounted price. It was “very, very much more than they would have paid for a painting”, the source tells us, “they are not broke, but at the time they certainly didn’t have a great deal of money”. But it was too awkward to refuse and they bought the piece.

The source, though, defended Hambling, saying she is actually “extraordinarily generous with her time and her work… It just showed her very practical approach that she has to earn a living”. Hambling was approached for a comment.

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