Created only 9 years apart, the latest additions to the Jerwood Collection are by two Royal Academicians (past and present): William Roberts (1895-1980) and David Hockney (b. 1937).
At first glance the works couldn't be more different: watercolour vs etching; colour vs monochrome, contemporary vs historical subjects. However, what they share is a love of narrative, subtle complexity and precision of treatment and a mastery of their chosen technique.
Study for TV was executed in 1960 and shows Roberts' fascination with the everyday. As Andrew Gibbon Williams concluded in his monograph published in 2004, "Roberts’ work overflows with the joy of simple human interactions, brims with wit and humour, and throws into relief the oddities and quirkiness of twentieth-century life." The oil painting, TV was exhibited at The Royal Academy in 1960 and was purchased by Aberdeen Art Gallery.
David Hockney's A Wooded Landscape comes from Illustrations for Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, a series of 39 etchings to accompany six folklore tales selected from the 220 stories collected by the Brothers Grimm in Germany and first published in 1812. It illustrates the story Fundevogel; the tale of a little boy discovered in a tree by a forester and raised alongside his own daughter. The landscape sets the scene for the tale and was based on an old photograph of vineyards on the Moselle River.
Etching proved an ideal medium to convey the clarity and directness of the fairy tales which had delighted Hockney since childhood. He stated, "They're fascinating, the little stories, told in a very very simple, direct, straightforward language and style, it was this simplicity that attracted me. They cover quite a strange range of experience, from the magical to the moral."
Hockney has been making prints since 1954 and is recognised as one of the most talented, diverse and technically astute contemporary printmakers. His dislike of repetition and routine explains the enormous diversity of his output as an etcher and lithographer over the past 66 years.
Speaking about these significant new acquisitions, Lara Wardle, Director Curator, Jerwood Collection, said "A Wooded Landscape is one of Hockney’s key etchings and shows his technical mastery at its best in the virtuoso handling of line and texture; Roberts' dynamic and joyful image Study for TV joins our important 1939 Roberts oil, Punting on the Cherwell, enabling a broader understanding of the artist’s work within our collection. Art can nourish and enrich our lives, so at a time when the UK galleries and museums are sadly closed, it is reassuring that works from the Jerwood Collection are available to view on Art UK, a digital platform of the nation’s art."
Image: David Hockney RA (b.1937) A Wooded Landscape from Illustrations for Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, 1969 © David Hockney