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'In an old book'

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (published)

  • Date:

    1966 (printed)
    1967 (published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hockney, David, born 1937 (artist)
    Alecto Studios (printer)
    Editions Alecto Ltd. (publisher)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    etching and aquatint on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case MP 207A

Although commonly grouped with the Pop artists who emerged in Britain in the 1960s, David Hockney was less influenced in his image making by mass media, advertising and the consumer society than by his private life (his imagery often focuses on friends and familiar places), traditional literature and gay culture. The Alexandria-born Greek Cavafy, whom he discovered in 1960, was one of his favourite poets. In 1966 Hockney travelled to Beirut in search of the kind of atmosphere he imagined Alexandria would have had at the time when Cavafy was writing there. However, the images which he ultimately made to illustrate a selection of Cavafy's poems are mostly of young male couples which could have been made in many places apart from Egypt in the early 20th century. It is their simplicity and frankness which reflect the quality of Cavafy's writing which appealed to Hockney.

Physical description

A naked young man lying down on his back, hands behind head, head and torso down to mid thighs, drawn from above.

Place of Origin

London (published)


1966 (printed)
1967 (published)


Hockney, David, born 1937 (artist)
Alecto Studios (printer)
Editions Alecto Ltd. (publisher)

Materials and Techniques

etching and aquatint on paper

Marks and inscriptions

David Hockney '66 33/75
ea 367
signed, dated and numbered in pencil. Stamped on the back with the publisher's mark and number.


Height: 57 cm sheet, Width: 39.2 cm sheet, Height: 34.7 cm plate, Width: 22.2 cm plate

Descriptive line

David Hockney: 'In an old book'. Etching and aquatint. 1966

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Andrew Brighton: David Hockney Prints 1954-1977[Catalogue Raisonne]. Midland Group Gallery, Nottingham/ Scottish Arts Council. 1979. no.52

Production Note

One of a suite of 12 plates to: Fourteen Poems by C.P. Cavafy. Chosen and Illustrated with twelve etchings by David Hockney. Translated by Nikos Stangos and Stephen Spender. Published by Editions Alecto Limited, London 1967. This illustration accompanies the poem of the same title.

Subjects depicted

Poet; Gay; Eroticism (homo-eroticism); Homosexuality


Prints; Gender and Sexuality; LGBTQ

Production Type

Limited edition


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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