“Riding around on a Cooking Spoon” Rumpelstiltskin 1969

David Hockney RA OM CH | Etching, Aquatint and Drypoint | 16.4 x 25.2 cm *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:


 Wishing to appear vastly superior, a miller lies to the king claiming that his daughter could spin straw into gold. The king summoned the girl and locked her up in a tower room filled with straw and a spinning wheel. The king demands that she spins the straw into gold by the morning or he will cut off her head.

In total despair the girl was about to give up all hope and accept her fate when an imp-like creature appeared in the room and offered to spin the straw into gold in return for her necklace. The following morning the king was so impressed by her achievements he took her into a larger room filled with straw in order to repeat the exercise. Once again the imp reappears and offers to spin the straw into gold, this time in exchange for the girl’s ring.

On the third day the girl was taken to a much larger room filled with straw and once again threatened with execution unless she could fill the room with gold. However, if the girls mission proved successful the king promised that he would marry her. With nothing left to trade, the imp seized the opportunity to demand a promise from the girl that she should give him her firstborn child. With little choice the girl agreed and the imp spun the straw into gold for the final time.

The king kept his promise and married the miller’s daughter, but following the birth of their first child the imp returned to claim his payment. Distraught at the consequences of the promise she had made, she offered the imp all the wealth she had in order to keep her child. The imp had no interest in the girls riches but decided to give up his claim for the child on one condition … that she should guess his name within three days.

All the girls guesses failed and she wandered into the woods in despair on the final night in the hopes of finding the imp. She was to discover the imp’s remote mountain cottage and could see him hopping around his fire as he sang a little ditty: “Tonight, tonight, my plans I make. Tomorrow, tomorrow, the baby I take. The queen will never win the game, for Rumpelstiltskin is my name.”

When the imp visits the queen on the third day she reveals his name as ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ whereupon he flew into a great rage recognising he had lost their bargain. One version of this fairy story concludes with a grizzly end … that Rumpelstiltskin was so angry that he drove his right foot so far into the ground it sank up to his waist. In absolute turmoil he then seized his left foot with both hands and tore himself in two. However, the Brothers Grimm interpretation ends the story with Rumpelstiltskin flying out of a window on a cooking ladle.

David Hockney chose to depict both story endings in his series of six Rumpelstiltskin etchings: “Riding Around On A Cooking Spoon” and “He Tore Himself In Two”


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Availability: In stock