Sunday, 30 September 2012

Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy

Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy by David Hockney

Painted between 1970 and 1971, it depicts the fashion designer Ossie Clark and the textile designer Celia Birtwell shortly after their wedding at which Hockney was Clark's best man.  Hockney and Clark had been friends since the early 1960s. One of their cats sits on Ossie's knee (the cat in the painting was not in fact Percy; this was the name of one of their other cats but Hockney thought Percy made a better title than Blanche, the cat he painted). The work is in acrylic on canvas, and measures 2170 x 3084mm. It hangs in The Tate Gallery.

Hockney drew on both The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyckand A Rake's Progress by William Hogarth in the symbolism and composition of the painting. A copy of Hockney's own interpretation of A Rake's Progress is seen on the wall. The positions of the two figures are reversed from The Arnolfini Portrait with the implication that Birtwell is the dominant partner. The lilies near Birtwell, a symbol of female purity are also associated with depictions of the Annunciation (at the time of the portrait Birtwell was pregnant). The cat on Clark's lap is a symbol of infidelity and envy. In this case Clark, who was bisexual, continued to have affairs which contributed to the breakdown of the marriage in 1974.


  1. I have that Ossie dress that she's wearing! One of my most prized possessions...

    1. Wow! Yes I can understand why. Cling to it! :)