Summary

This is one of numerous studies Hockney made for his double portrait Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, 1970-1 (Tate Gallery T01269). The husband and wife fashion designers Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell were at the top of the fashion industry in London in the 'Swinging Sixties', when London's reputation as the fashion capital of the world was at its height. Clark designed clothes using Birtwell's textile designs, and sold them from the shop Quorum in Chelsea's King's Road.

The picture posed great technical problems for Hockney. He worked out the composition over an extended period of time, from photographs and drawings. This drawing is a three-quarter profile portrait study of Clark. Hockney wrote: 'The figures are nearly life-size; it's difficult painting figures like that, and it was quite a struggle. They posed for a long time, both Ossie and Celia. Ossie was painted many, many times; I took it out and put it in, out and in. I probably painted the head alone twelve times' (Stangos, p.203).

Shortly after its completion in 1971, the finished portrait was displayed at the National Portrait Gallery, London, together with all the preparatory drawings and photographs. The Tate owns two other studies for the painting (Tate Gallery T01515, 1517).

Further reading:
Nikos Stangos (ed.), David Hockney by David Hockney, London 1976, pp.23, 197, 203-4, 239
Marco Livingstone, David Hockney, revised edition, London 1987, pp.131, 136-7, 159

Terry Riggs
December 1997