Hockney, David (b.1937), 'Viewing a Prison Scene', Etching & Aquatint, 1961-63

'Viewing a Prison Scene', Etching & Aquatint, 1961-63

Please Note: This item is not for sale.
Signed and numbered in pencil. From the edition of 50, there were also 10 proofs. Printed on Barcham Green handmade paper by C.H.Welch, London.

Published by Editions Alecto in 1963 (sheet bears their blindstamp).

Hogarth’s ‘The Prison’ depicts the rake in a state of despair in the murky depths of the Fleet, London’s infamous debtors’ prison. Hockney’s rake by contrast gazes up at a prison scene on the big screen from the comfort of a cinema. The cinema held a deep importance to Hockney, growing up as he did in the generation before television. From a young age Hockney was an avid cinema-goer, and it proved such a formative influence on him visually that he later declared, “I was brought up in Bradford and Hollywood”, and deemed the latter, “The Florence of the twentieth century”.


‘A Rake’s Progress’ is Hockney’s first and most celebrated print series. On his 24th birthday, Hockney set out to New York on what was to be one of the most thrilling and pivotal journeys of his early career. The set of sixteen etchings takes as it’s starting point Hogarth’s 1732 series of eight paintings of the same title, which depict the decline and fall of Tom Rakewell from riches to madness. Hockney would have seen this much-lauded group in the collection of London’s John Soane museum, where they still reside. Hockney recalled, “My original intention was…to take Hogarth’s titles and somehow play with them and set it in New York in modern times. What I liked was telling a story just visually”. ‘A Rake’s Progress’ was produced over a two year period, from 1961 to 1963 and were published to great acclaim by Editions Alecto in association with the Royal College of Art in December 1963.


Image Size 30.3 x 40.1 cm
Paper Size 49 x 57.9 cm
Reference Tokyo 21.
Collections Tate Gallery, London; V & A, London; MOMA, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Fine Art Museums of San Francisco; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra