David Hockney

My Parents


Not on display

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

Display caption

Hockey completed this work after two failed attempts at painting his parents, Kenneth and Laura Hockney. They were frustrated when Hockney gave up on previous versions, having spent hours posing for him. However, speaking about their reaction to My Parents, Hockney’s sister Margaret said, ‘Mum and Dad were very proud of it, and felt all the sittings had been worthwhile,’. Kenneth and Laura’s poses may reflect their personalities. Laura is gazing directly at the viewer. Kenneth, known for fidgeting during sittings, is shown reading, as though he has forgotten he is being observed.

Gallery label, July 2020

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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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