First showing for Hockney's Mrs Clark


By TOM TEDORCZUK
This is London


October 11, 2006

Celia

A drawing by David Hockney of Celia Birtwell, wife of late fashion designer Ossie Clark, is to be shown in public for the first time.

The work will be part of the National Portrait Gallery's new exhibition devoted to the artist's portraits.

It is being loaned by a private collector and will hang beside the 1970 painting Mr And Mrs Clark And Percy, one of the most famous British pictures of the 20th century, which was first seen at the NPG in 1971.

The double portrait was voted last year by BBC Radio 4 Today programme listeners as one of Britain's greatest paintings. Hockney, the best man at the couple's wedding, admitted last year that the cat's name was Blanche but Percy had a nicer ring.

Textile designer Birtwell will unveil the exhibition today along with Hockney. Clark was murdered at his Notting Hill flat in 1996.

The NPG's retrospective, the most comprehensive exhibition of Hockney's portraits ever staged, opens tomorrow. It ranges from 1954 until last year and includes more than 150 paintings, drawings, prints and sketchbooks.

The exhibition is an eclectic study of Hockney's subjects, which include Andy Warhol, Man Ray and WH Auden. The style of portraiture varies from his Cubist-influenced collages of the Eighties to his recent camera lucida drawings.

Among other highlights are studies of his father created during his student years in Bradford as well as the celebrated almost life-size double portraits of American Collectors (1968) and My Parents (1977).

Sandy Nairne, National Portrait Gallery director, said of the Burberrysponsored exhibition that it was a great privilege to be able to bring so many of the portraits together. Hockney, 69, moved to Los Angeles in the mid-Sixties.•