David Hockney

My Parents


David Hockney born 1937
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1829 × 1829 mm
frame: 1940 × 1941 × 85 mm
Purchased 1981

Display caption

In this work, painted a year before
his father's death, Hockney's style has shifted towards a closer study of human behaviour. His mother poses, attentive and graceful, while his father, who fidgeted during sittings, was painted reading Aaron Scharf's book Art and Photography. A book on Chardin draws
a parallel with intimate domestic scenes of the past, as do the volumes of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past visible on the shelf. Piero della Francesca's Baptism of Christ (now in the National Gallery;
see below) is reflected in the mirror, forming a triptych with the two figures.


Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

T03255 MY PARENTS 1977

Inscribed ‘my parents 1977/David Hockney’ on back of canvas
Oil on canvas, 72 × 72 (182.9 × 182.9)
Purchased from the Knoedler Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1981
Prov: Knoedler Kasmin Ltd 1981
Exh: David Hockney: New Paintings, Drawings and Graphics, André Emmerich Gallery, New York, October–November 1977 (works not numbered, repr.in colour); 20th Century Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, June–September 1978 (6, repr.); Lives, Serpentine Gallery, March 1978 (works not numbered, repr.); Hockney's Progress: Drawings, Theatre Designs, Paintings and Prints, Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, September–October 1980 (122)
Lit: Henry Geldzahler, ‘Hockney Abroad : A Slide Show’, Art in America, LXIX, February 1981, p.140, repr.in colour; Marco Livingstone, David Hockney, 1981, pp.183–6, repr.pl.147

In 1975 Hockney abandoned an earlier version of this subject, which included a self-portrait reflected in the dressing table mirror (repr.in Livingstone, op.cit., pl.146). According to Livingstone, he made use of numerous colour photographs in T03255, although the figures were painted from life. The artist's father is portrayed reading a copy of Aaron Scharf's Art and Photography, while six volumes of the English translation of Proust's A la Recherche du Temps Perdu and a book on Chardin are visible on the bottom shelf of the trolley. Reflected in the mirror are a reproduction of Piero della Francesca's ‘The Baptism of Christ’ in the National Gallery and the top right-hand corner of Hockney's painting ‘Invented Man revealing Still Life’ 1975.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984

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