David Hockney - The Carpenter’s Bench, a Knife and Fire


Original Etching, Aquatint & Drypoint, 1969, on Hodgkinson handmade paper, watermarked DH/PP, signed by the artist in pencil.

Size: paper: 12 1/4 x 12 5/8 in. / 31 x 32 cm plate: 6 x 6 3/4 in. / 15.3 x 17.2 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: This is print number 24 from “Six Fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm”. It is an illustration for “The boy who left home to learn fear”

A father had two sons. The dimwitted younger son , when asked by his father what he would like to learn to support himself, said he would like to learn how to shudder (as in, learn to have fear). The boy began traveling with a waggoner. When one night they arrived at an inn, the inn-keeper told him that if he wanted to know how to shudder, he should visit the haunted castle nearby. If he could manage to stay there for three nights in a row, he could learn how to shudder, as well as win the king's daughter and all of the rich treasures of the castle. Many men had tried, but none had succeeded.

The boy accepted the challenge and went to the king. The king agreed, and told him that he may bring with him three non-living things into the castle. The boy asked for a fire, a lathe , and a cutting board with a knife.

The first night, as the boy sat in his room, two voices from the corner of the room moaned into the night, complaining about the cold. The boy, unafraid, claimed that the owners of the voices were stupid not to warm themselves with the fire. Suddenly, two black cats jumped out of the corner and, seeing the calm boy, proposed a card game. The boy tricked the cats and trapped them with the cutting board and knife. Black cats and dogs emerged from every patch of darkness in the room, and the boy fought and killed each of them with his knife. Then, from the darkness, a bed appeared. He lay down on it, preparing for sleep, but it began walking all over the castle. Still unafraid, the boy urged it to go faster. The bed turned upside down on him, but the boy, unfazed, just tossed the bed aside and slept next to the fire until morning.

The king told the boy that he could win his lovely daughter. The boy agreed, though upset that he had still not learned how to shudder. After their wedding, the boy's continuing complaints "If only I could shudder!" annoyed his wife to no end. Reaching her wits' end, she sent for a bucketful of stream water, complete with gudgeons . She tossed the freezing water onto her husband while he was asleep. As he awoke, shuddering, he exclaimed that while he had finally learned to shudder, he still did not know what true fear was.

Provenance: Marlborough Fine Art, London - Their label verso


David Hockney Prints - Tokyo Museum Catalogue 90

Scottish Arts Council 93

David Hockney Foundation: https://www.thedavidhockneyfoundation.org/artwork/1432