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  • Celia in a Wicker Chair (black state) (On hold) by David Hockney

Celia in a Wicker Chair (black state) (On hold) by David Hockney

Petersburg Press

Etching and Aquatint


Edition Size: 20

Image Size: 26.75 x 21.25 inches

Sheet Size: 36 x 29.5 inches


Condition: Excellent

Details — Click to read

Celia in a Wicker Chair (black state), 1974
Plate 26.75 x 21.25 in. / 68 x 54 cm
Paper 36 x 29.5 in. / 91 x 75 cm
Softground etching and aquatint printed in black on BFK Rives mould made paper. Edition of 20 with 3 artist proofs: this impression 14/20. Signed and dated 74 by the artist lower right in pencil. Published by Petersburg Press.
Gilded frame 41 x 33.25 x 2 in. / 104 x 84 x 5 cm

This portrait of longtime Hockney muse Celia Birtwell balances the spontaneity of a sketch with the gravity of a formal portrait. Birtwell’s hair is a flourish of scribbled lines, and her face is shrouded in shadow. Unusual for a Hockney portrait, she seems to stare intently at the viewer, or just beyond. The artist utilizes aquatint for her dress, with a watercolor effect that draws attention to the large botanical print. Birtwell is an acclaimed textile and fashion designer, and Hockney clearly placed a subtle emphasis on the texture, weight, and definition of her garment. Her relaxed demeanor is matched by the elegantly draped folds of her dress. Soft hatching in light gray suggests the thatched pattern of a wicker chair. One of Birtwell’s hands is placed carefully on the chair, while the other hangs, relaxed, just off the arm. The chair’s legs and her deliberately placed foot cast scribbled shadows on the floor which is defined by a single line bisecting the composition.

Hockney’s mastery of layering etching techniques and working more into certain areas can convey multitudes to a viewer: demanding them to pay attention to an area of great detail, or allow their eye to rest on a span of color or tone. Her face, for example, lacks great detail and is shaded in grey, and so the emphasis is on her intent gaze and thickly-lined eyes. As a close friend of Hockney one can imagine her ability to “see” him in an intimate way, and he portrays her as someone unafraid to stare, to see, filled with curiosity. The thicker line around her jaw could reflect a strength of character. The flurry of her hair conveys a sense of creativity, movement, and excitement. One hand and one foot are posed, while the other hand and foot hang casually, suggesting a blend of poise and relaxation.

Celia Birtwell’s bold and feminine textile and fashion designs are inspired by the romance of art deco and the Victorian era, the natural world’s beauty, and artists such as Picasso and Matisse. The floral and botanical prints she is wearing in this portrait are a nod to her vocation—Hockney likely drew her wearing her own work. She was a cofounder of the Quorum boutique in London in 1966 with then-husband Ossie Clark and designer Alie Pollock. Immortalized in Hockney’s painting Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, 1971, the Clarks began the modern-day catwalk show as spectacle, with energetic, dancing models, hip music, and an audience packed with socialites and celebrities. Birtwell designed textiles for Clark who would cut and form the designs. They would eventually provide clothing for the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and other icons of music. Birtwell later set up her own successful shop in 1984 in Bayswater, selling textiles that can now be seen in international hotels and private residences. Hockney met Birtwell in 1968 and sat for the first time in 1969 for an ink drawing titled Celia. Since then she has sat for the artist 83 times over 5 decades.

This print is presented in a gilt frame with taupe, slub-woven linen matting.



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The Artist

David Hockney

Born in Bradford England on the 9th July 1937 David Hockney was interested in art from a very early age, and was an admirer of Fragonard, Picasso and Matisse. The fifth of six children his parents encouraged his artistic experimentation. He went to the Bradford College of Art 1953-57. To fulfil his national service, he worked in hospitals as he was a conscientious objector to war. Then in 1959 he was accepted into the Royal College of Art, Graduate school in London.

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