Mother, Bradford. 19 Feb 1979

Hockney made this drawing on 19 February 1979, the day of his father’s funeral. When he signed and dated it later, however, he mistakenly inscribed the year 1978. Relying on a minimal line, the artist conveys the sadness in his mother’s face as she looks directly at her son. The use of sepia ink applied with a reed pen—a possible reference to Van Gogh— gives his mother a softer, more vulnerable air than in the earlier pen-and-ink portraits. Making a drawing was less intrusive than taking a photograph would have been. Drawing had become Hockney’s way of communicating with his mother.

David Hockney
Mother, Bradford. 19 Feb 1979, 1979
Sepia ink on paper The David Hockney Foundation
© David Hockney
Photography by Richard Schmidt