David Hockney, ‘Three Kings and a Queen’, 1961, Christie's

Watermark J Whatman 1956, signed and dated in pencil, inscribed Queen in grey and black ink in the subject, a working proof before burnishing to the aquatint on the second figure at left and before the published edition of approximately fifty, with narrow margins at left and right, wide margins above and below, several uninked printer's creases in the subject, in good condition, framed
Plate 230 x 655 mm., Sheet 490 x 689 mm.

Inspired by illustrations in a book on the history of card games, Three Kings and a Queen belongs to a series of works begun in the autumn of 1960. In each of these images the letter K identifies the figure as a king. Here, its omission on one of the figures designates this king as a 'queen', a witty visual pun and appropriation of the slang term for homosexual.

Alistair Grant, Head of Printmaking at the Royal College of Art, found Three Kings and a Queen in the drying racks of the Print Room and entered it, without informing Hockney, into an etching revival exhibition The Graven Image with Robert Erskine, at St George's Gallery, London. Hockney won a prize of £100 for the etching, which funded his first trip to New York in the summer of 1961.

Christie's Special Notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

See Scottish Arts Council 7; Tokyo 7

Ian Bennett (?-2014), London.
Acquired by the present owner in the early 1980's.

About David Hockney

A pioneer of the British Pop Art movement in the early 1960s alongside Richard Hamilton, David Hockney gained recognition for his semi-abstract paintings on the theme of homosexual love before it was decriminalized in England in 1967. In We Two Boys Clinging Together (1961), red-painted couples embrace one other while floating amidst fragments from a Walt Whitman poem. After moving to California at the end of 1963, Hockney began painting scenes of the sensual and uninhibited life of athletic young men, depicting swimming pools, palm trees, and perpetual sunshine. Experimenting with photography in the mid-1970s, Hockney went on to create his famous photocollages with Polaroids and snapshot prints arranged in a grid formation, pushing the two-dimensionality of photography to the limit, fragmenting the monocular vision of the camera and activating the viewer in the process. A versatile artist, Hockney has produced work in almost every medium—including full-scale opera set designs, prints, and drawings using cutting-edge technology such as fax machines, laser photocopiers, computers, and even iPhones and iPads.

British, b. 1937, Bradford, United Kingdom, based in Yorkshire, United Kingdom