THE GRAND OLD DUKE OF YORK 1989
Paula Rego (1935 – )
- 52 X 38 CM
- ETCHING WITH AQUATINT
- Accession number
The Nursery Rhymesportfolio derived from drawings Paula Rego made for her granddaughter Carmen for her second birthday. She drew those rhymes that Carmen knew, and these drawings, in ink and wash, were much simpler than the prints. The artist worked directly on the plates, and it is a measure of her draughtmanship that few had to be written off. The printing was undertaken by Paul Coldwell, himself an artist, at the Culford Press. He described the experience as a joy ‘because her images are so strongly drawn. At various points in the making of a print she insists on looking at it from a distance. Most artists work with the print under their noses, and only see at the private view that the image is unreadable at anything over six inches.’ The artist had wanted the prints to be strong and direct and wanted them to work, as she said, ‘biff-bang’.
Nursery rhymes are traditional rhymes passed on to children by adults. It is believed by some that this rhyme refers to the War of the Roses (the battle between the House of Lancaster (red rose) and the House of York (white rose) for the crown of England in the 15th century); whereas others believe it refers to George III’s son, the Duke of York (1763-1827), a competent but not outstanding soldier.
Oh the grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men,
He marched them up to the top of the hill
And he marched them down again.
And when they were up they were up.
And when they were down they were down.
And when they were only half way up,
They were neither up nor down.
Paula Rego Nursery Rhymes, The South Bank Centre, London 1990
T G Rosenthal, Paula Rego The Complete Graphic Work, Thames & Hudson, London 2003
Iona and Peter Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1952