Summary

The source for this print is the poem 'Alexandrian Kings' by C.P. Cavafy: 'Kaisarion was standing a little forward,/ dressed in pink tinted silk,/ on his dress a garland of hyacinths,/ his belt a double row of sapphires and amethysts;/ his shoes were tied with white ribbons/ embroidered with rose coloured pearls.' It is inscribed with the title and the words 'ALEXANDRIA/ CLEOPATRA/ MUM'. Hockney was an admirer of the homoerotic poetry of Cavafy, and used it as a source of several works, most notably his series of prints Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy, 1966 (Tate Gallery P77563-77575). He made an earlier oil painting on the subject, Kaisarion, 1960 (private collection). Both of the Kaisarion pictures are typical of Hockney's Dubuffet-inspired style of his student days. The artist's work of this period frequently contained allusions to his homosexuality, and to the people he both admired and desired, often using initials or a simple number code in the manner of the American poet Walt Whitman. The 1960 painting contains the initials 'Kk'.

Further reading:
Nikos Stangos (ed.), David Hockney by David Hockney, London 1976, pp.14, 64, 65, reproduced p.56
Marco Livingstone, David Hockney: Etchings and Lithographs, exhibition catalogue, Waddington Graphics, London 1988, reproduced pl.2 in colour

Terry Riggs
November 1997