“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Hair” Rapunzel 1969
David Hockney RA OM CH | Etching and Aquatint | 25.8 x 24.3cm *sold unframed
This is one of 39 etchings that Hockney created for the series ‘Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm’. From the unsigned edition of 400 plus 15 artist’s proofs. The etching plates were hand-drawn by David Hockney in London between May and November 1969, proofed by Maurice Payne and printed by Piet Clement on W.S.Hodgkinson paper. Published by the Petersburg Press in association with the Kasmin Gallery in 1970.
An interpretation of the Brothers Grimm Fairytale.
Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm (4th January 1785 – 20th September 1863)
Wilhelm Carl Grimm (24th February 1786 – 16th December 1859)
Born in Hanau, Germany, son of Philipp Wilhelm Grimm and Dorothea Grimm.
There once lived a man and his wife, who had long wished for a child, but all was to be in vain. At the back of their house was a little window which overlooked a most beautiful garden full of the finest vegetables and flowers. However, it was encircled by a high wall and no one ventured into it, for it belonged to a witch of great might, of whom all the world was afraid.
One day the wife was standing at the little window and looking into the garden. She saw a bed filled with the finest rampion; and it looked so fresh and green that she began to wish for some. This longing remained for days, for she knew she could not get to the rampion, and she pined away growing pale and miserable. Then the man was uneasy, and asked, “What is the matter, dear wife?”
“Oh,” she answered, “I shall die unless I can have some of that rampion to eat that grows in the garden at the back of our house.”
The man, who loved her very much, thought to himself, “Rather than lose my wife I will get some rampion, cost what it will.”
In the twilight he climbed over the wall into the witch’s garden, plucked hastily a handful of rampion and brought it to his wife. She made a salad of it at once, and ate of it to her heart’s content. But she liked it so much, and it tasted so good, that the next day she longed for it thrice as much as she had done before. If she was to have any rest the man must climb over the wall once more. So he went in the twilight again; and just as he was climbing back, he suddenly saw the witch standing before him, and was terribly frightened.
The witch cried out, with angry eyes, “How dare you climb over into my garden like a thief, and steal my rampion! It shall be the worse for you!”
“Oh,” he answered, “please be merciful rather than just, I have only done it through necessity; for my wife saw your rampion out of the window, and became possessed with such a great longing that she would have died if she could not have had some to eat.”
Then the witch said, “If it is all as you say you may have as much rampion as you like, on one condition – the child that will come into the world must be given to me. It shall be well for the child, as I will care for it like a mother.” In such great distress of mind the man promised everything.
When the time came when the child was born the witch appeared, and, naming the child Rapunzel, which is the same as rampion, she took it away with her.
Rapunzel was the most beautiful child in the world. When she was twelve years old the witch shut her up in a tower in the midst of a wood. The tower neither had steps or a door and there was only a small window high above. When the witch wished to be let into the tower, she would stand below and cry:
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel! Let down your hair!”
Rapunzel had beautiful long hair that shone like gold. On hearing the voice of the witch she would undo the fastening of the upper window, unbind the plaits of her hair, and let it down to the ground below, and the witch would climb up by it.
After they had lived like this for a few years it happened that the King’s son was riding through the wood when he came to the tower. As he drew near he heard a voice singing so sweetly that he stood still and listened. It was Rapunzel in her loneliness trying to pass the time away with sweet songs. The King’s son wished to go into the tower and find the girl singing so beautifully and sought to find a door, but there was none. So he rode home, but the song had captured his heart and every day thereafter he went into the wood and listened to it. Once, as the Prince was standing there under a tree, he saw the witch come up, and listened while she called out,
“O Rapunzel, Rapunzel! Let down your hair.”
Then he saw how Rapunzel let down her long tresses, and how the witch climbed up to get inside the tower. He said to himself, “Since that is the ladder I will climb it, and seek my fortune.” And the next day, as soon as it began to grow dusk, he went to the tower and cried,
“O Rapunzel, Rapunzel! Let down your hair.”
And she let down her hair to the ground, the King’s son climbed up by it. Rapunzel was greatly terrified when she saw that a man had come in to her, for she had never seen one before. The Prince began speaking so kindly to her, and told how her singing had entered into his heart, so that he could have no peace until he had seen her for himself. Then Rapunzel forgot her terror, and when he asked her to take him for her husband, and she saw that he was young and beautiful, she thought to herself, “I certainly like him much better than old mother Gothel,” and she put her hand into his hand.
She said: “I would willingly go with you, but I do not know how I shall get out. Each time you visit bring a silken rope, and I will make this into a ladder, and when it is ready I will get down by it out of the tower, and you can take me away on your horse.” They agreed that he should come to the tower every evening, as the old witch only visited Rapunzel in the day-time.
Now the witch would have known nothing of all about this until once Rapunzel said to her unwittingly, “Mother Gothel, how is it that you climb up here so slowly, and the King’s son can be here with me in a moment?”
“O wicked child,” cried the witch, “what is this I hear! I thought I had hidden you from all the world, and you have betrayed me!” In her anger she seized Rapunzel by her beautiful hair, struck her several times with her left hand, and then grasping a pair of shears in her right – snip, snap – the beautiful locks lay on the ground. She was so hard-hearted that she took Rapunzel and put her in a waste and deserted place, where she lived in great woe and misery.
The same day on which she took Rapunzel away the witch went back to the tower in the evening and made fast the severed locks of hair to the window-hasp, and the King’s son came and cried,
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel! Let down your hair.”
The hair was let down, and the King’s son climbed up, but instead of his dearest Rapunzel he found the witch looking at him with wicked glittering eyes.
“Aha!” She cried, mocking him, “you came for your darling, but the sweet bird sits no longer in the nest, and sings no more. The cat has got her and will scratch out your eyes as well! Rapunzel is lost to you; you will see her no more.”
The King’s son was beside himself with grief, and in his agony he sprang from the tower. Where he escaped with his life, the thorns on which he fell put out his eyes. He wandered blind through the wood, eating nothing but roots and berries, and doing nothing but lament and weep for the loss of his dearest wife.
The Prince wandered several years in misery until at last he came to the deserted place where Rapunzel lived with her twin-children that she had borne, a boy and a girl. At first he heard a voice that he thought he knew, and on reaching the place from which the sound seemed to come Rapunzel knew him, and fell against his neck and wept. And when her tears touched his eyes they became clear again, and he could see with them as well as ever.
The Prince took Rapunzel to his kingdom, where they were received with great joy, and there they both lived long and happily.
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