Missing image

© David Hockney


David Hockney (1937 – )


326 X 456 MM
Accession number


In the late 1960s Hockney began preparations for the double portrait of Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy (Tate Collection www.tate.org.uk), but these were put on hold for most of 1969 as he was taken up with one of his most ambitious printmaking projects: Illustrations for Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm. Working on illustrations of the world-famous tales collected by the German scholars and folklorists, Jakob Ludwig Karl (1778-1865) and Wilhelm Karl (1787-1859) Grimm, enabled Hockney to give full rein to his imagination. He had read all of the stories, some three hundred and fifty in total, and was attracted by the simple direct style of the writing. He had already made etchings based on the Rumpelstiltzhen story in 1961 and again in 1962, and the for the new series he planned to illustrate twelve of the tales, but finally settled on just six titles: The Little Sea Hare, Fundevogel, Rapunzel, The Boy who left Home to learn Fear, Old Rink Rank, and Rumpelstiltzhen. In all he made over 80 etchings from which 39 were published by Petersburg Press in both book and loose-leaf portfolio editions in 1970.

As with the Cavafy etchings, he largely worked directly on to the copper plates so the drawing had a more spontaneous feel. He only occasionally made preliminary drawings in order to try out ideas, and for technical reasons, for the figures in both The boy hidden in an egg and The boy hidden in a fish, two illustrations for the tale of The Little Sea Hare.

The etchings were more complex than his earlier prints and most notable was his use of the traditional engraving technique of cross-hatching which, in addition to aquatint, he used for both areas of tone and in creating dense blacks. Though it was the first time he had employed the technique for his own prints, he had been aware of it from having studied the Hogarth etchings for his Rake’s Progressalmost ten years earlier.

Hockney chose Fundevogel for its detail and because he liked the idea of people changing into other forms. In the final plate, based on a photograph from a guide book to Germany, Hockney chose to eschew drama of the tale and opted for a still and silent lake.

In this tale a forester found a child high up in a tree, snatched from its mother by a giant bird. He rescued the child and vowed to raise it alongside his daughter. He christened the little boy Fundevogel. The children grew up happily and promised each other ‘If you never leave me; I’ll never leave you’. However the forester’s old cook planned to kill Fundevogel; so the children ran away, but they were chased by the servants. When the children saw the servants coming they changed into a rose bush with a single rose. The servants continued searching but when the children saw them and they changed into a clock with a tower. The old cook was now very angry and chased the children herself, but they saw her and changed into a lake with a duck. The old cook began to drink the lake dry, but the duck grabbed her by the neck and drowned her. And the children went back home before the forester returned from work.