David Hockney

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
David Hockney born 1937
Etching and aquatint on paper
Image: 405 x 497 mm
Presented by Jonathan Cheshire and Gareth Marshallsea in memory of Peter Coni 1994


Hockney's early graphic works, made both while he was a student and shortly after he left the Royal College of Art in the early 1960s, laid the foundations for all his subsequent work. The earliest of these works are full of iconographic and stylistic experiment and of autobiographical allusions that often refer obliquely to the artist's homosexuality.

The quotations contained in this etching are taken from two homoerotic poems by C.P. Cavafy, 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' and 'The Mirror at the Entrance'. Hockney explained that 'the idea of making a mirror have feelings is a wonderful poetic idea that strongly appeals to me' (Stangos, p.64). Other works by Hockney which contain references to Cavafy's writings include A Grand Procession of Dignitaries in the Semi-Egyptian Style, 1961 (private collection) and his major series of etchings, Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy, 1966 (Tate Gallery P77563-77575).

Further reading:
Nikos Stangos (ed.), David Hockney by David Hockney, London 1976, pp.14, 64, 65, reproduced p.57

Terry Riggs
November 1997

Display caption

The quotations in this print do not come from the fairytale of Snow White, but from two homoerotic poems by CP Cavafy, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The Mirror at the Entrance. Homosexual love, and male beauty, are the primary inspiration for this print, however Hockney has also explained that 'making a mirror have feelings is a wonderful poetic idea that strongly appeals to me'.

Gallery label, August 2004

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