Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy was a wedding present to fashion designer Ossie Clark and textile designer Celia Birtwell from artist David Hockney. David was their best man, and seemed to have a gift of foresight, judging from the imagery in his painting; Hockney hints that all’s not well.
Celia is shown standing, smartly dressed and gazing innocently at the viewer, while Ossie is slumped in a chair, barefoot, smoking and staring out indolently. Hockney was strongly influenced by Jan Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait.
Van Eyck’s has shown himself in the mirror of that painting, and Hockney has followed suit by putting himself (in the form of one of his paintings, top left), in the Clark painting.
It has many strong verticals, and a noticeable feature is the window separating the bride and groom (a sign of things to come?). On Ossie’s lap is Blanche, one of their 2 cats, but Hockney has named it after their other cat, Percy (a slang name for male private parts). Percy is sitting upright, staring out of the window, symbolising Clark’s future infidelity.
Ossie was thought at the time to be bisexual, but in fact he was probably gay. Celia could not tolerate his many affairs and flings, and the couple divorced in 1974. Ossie was murdered by a gay ex-lover in 1996, but Celia is still alive, and a sought-after designer since her sellout collections for Topshop and John Lewis.
About the author
Annette Peppis leads the team at Peppis Designworks, a creative hub of established publishing industry experts who create books, branding, marketing material and design templates for leading publishers and businesses. Keep in touch by subscribing to her bi-monthly emails.