David Hockney - Pleading for the Child

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Original etching, 1969, on Hodgkinson handmade paper, watermarked DH/PP, signed by the artist in pencil.

Size: paper: 24 3/4 x 18 1/8 in. / 62 x 46 cm plate: 17 3/4 x 12 5/8 in. / 45 x 32 cm

Edition: 100 (There were also 600 impressions made in an unsigned book edition)

Published by: The Petersburg Press, London in association with the Kasmin Gallery, London

Printed by:  Piet Clement, Amsterdam

Note: From the edition with narrower margins, signed recto with editioning verso. It has been framed so that, unfortunately, the edition cannot be seen

This is print number 33 from “Six Fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm”. It is an illustration for “Rumpelstilzchen” Rumpelstilzchen) is a German Fairy Tale .  It was collected by the Grimm in the 1812 edition of Children's and Household Tales. The story is about an Imp who spins straw into gold in exchange for a girl’s firstborn. to appear superior, a Miller lies to the king, telling him that his daughter can spin straw into gold. The king calls for the girl, locks her up in a tower room filled with straw and a spinning wheel , and demands she spin the straw into gold by morning or he will cut off her head. When she has given up all hope, an imp-like creature appears in the room and spins the straw into gold in return for her necklace (since he only comes to people who are seeking a deal or a trade). When next morning the king takes the girl to a larger room filled with straw to repeat the feat, the imp once again spins, in return for the girl's ring. On the third day, when the girl has been taken to an even larger room filled with straw and told by the king that he will marry her if she can fill this room with gold or execute her if she cannot, the girl has nothing left with which she can pay the strange creature. He extracts from her a promise that she will give him her firstborn child, and so he spins the straw into gold a final time.

The king keeps his promise to marry the miller's daughter, but when their first child is born, the imp returns to claim his payment: "Now give me what you promised." She offers him all the wealth she has to keep the child, but the imp has no interest in her riches. He finally consents to give up his claim to the child if she can guess his name within three days. Her many guesses fail, but before the final night, she wanders into the woods searching for him and comes across his remote mountain cottage and watches, unseen, as he hops about his fire and sings. In his song's lyrics—"tonight tonight, my plans I make, tomorrow tomorrow, the baby I take. The queen will never win the game, for Rumpelstiltskin is my name"—he reveals his name.

When the imp comes to the queen on the third day, after first feigning ignorance, she reveals his name, Rumpelstiltskin, and he loses his temper and their bargain. Versions vary about whether he accuses the devil or witches of having revealed his name to the queen. In the 1812 edition of the Brothers Grimm tales, Rumpelstiltskin then "ran away angrily, and never came back."

Provenance: Marlborough Graphics, London

Literature:  

David Hockney Prints - Tokyo Museum Catalogue 99

Scottish Arts Council 103

David Hockney Foundation: https://www.thedavidhockneyfoundation.org/artwork/1457

Public Collections: The Metropolitan Museum, New York

Condition: In good condition