Catalogue entry

Inscr. ‘The First Marriage David Hockney’ on stretcher.
Canvas, 72×84 1/4 (183×214·5).
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1963.
Coll: Purchased from the artist by Kasmin Ltd 1962; sold to the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1963.
Exh: C.A.S., British Painting in the Sixties, Section Two, Whitechapel Art Gallery, June 1963 (145), as ‘The Marriage’; Paris Biennale, September–November 1963 (Grande Bretagne 13, repr.) as ‘Premier mariage’.
Lit: David Hockney, ‘Paintings with Two Figures’ in Cambridge Opinion, No.37, 1964, pp.57–8, repr. p.58.

The artist wrote (15 August 1963) that the preliminary drawings were done in a hotel in West Berlin in August 1962. He had met an American friend in a museum in East Berlin and had seen him next to a wooden Egyptian figure: 'From the distance they looked like a couple, posing as it were, for a wedding photograph. This amused me at first, but then I rather liked the idea of the marriage of styles, as it were. The heavily stylised wooden figure - with the real human being.

'After making 2 or 3 drawings I started the painting on my return to London. In actual fact both figures are stylised, as I thought this was essential to have some sort of unity, but the female figure is stylised in a very obvious way.

‘ “The Second Marriage” was started after I had finished “The First Marriage” and is really the same theme, although in this case they are placed in a more complicated and recognisable setting. “The Second Marriage” is I think more complicated because in doing it the way I did I got rather more interested in the effects of illusion and perspective and what they suggest. (There is no real perspective in the “first Marriage” as perspective implies illusion, and I left a great deal of the canvas “bare” to stop the spectator, who, sensing the bare canvas, senses little illusion or intrusion into its surface.)’

The picture was painted in London in September 1962.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I