Glyndebourne Shop has created an exquisite, new collection featuring David Hockney’s classic designs from The Rake’s Progress, writes Poppy Squire.

The Rake's Progress Collection by David Hockney

Ever since its premiere in Venice in 1951, the visual identity of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress has been a key component in enjoying this opera, with its libretto loosely based on the composer’s study of a series of eight paintings and engravings of the same name by the 18th century English artist, William Hogarth.

It wasn’t until 1975 however, that David Hockney became involved in the development of the Glyndebourne production of Stravinsky’s masterpiece.

Director John Cox had seen Hockney’s own series of paintings, similarly entitled A Rake’s Progress, inspired by his time in the United States during the 1960s, and approached him with the hope of collaborating on his Glyndebourne production.

After initial reservations about entering the world of opera set design, Hockney listened to an original recording of The Rake’s Progress, conducted by Stravinsky himself, and couldn’t help but hear the inspiration both he and Stravinsky had taken from Hogarth’s work, after which he set about creating a 20th century equivalent of an 18th century idea.

Hockney chose to focus his designs on etchings, a decision he felt would accompany the music better, through its linear and spiky style, applying his cross-hatched etchings to both the costume and set design, albeit on a larger scale. As Cox himself says, this approach became the ‘visual equivalent of the music’.

Hockney and Cox talk more about designing the production in this short video:

David Hockney and John Cox on The Rake's Progress

Since its premiere in 1975, Cox and Hockney’s collaborative production has become what many have called ‘the definitive Rake’s Progress’, seen and enjoyed around the world in many incarnations.

In anticipation of its return home for Festival 2020, Glyndebourne commissioned a collection of products featuring the designs.

At the cornerstone of the collection is a beautiful range from the British retailer Halcyon Days. Established in 1950, Halcyon Days remains one of only 14 companies in the world to hold all three Royal Warrants, as suppliers of objets d’art.

The Rake's Progress Collection by David Hockney

Like Glyndebourne, Halcyon Days’ core belief is the development and nourishment of talent and craftsmanship. All of its enamel products are made by hand in their factory in Wolverhampton, the original homeland of where the industry began in the 18th century. Whilst continuing to create signature enamel pieces, Halcyon Days is now also known for its English fine bone china – making it the perfect partner for a collection around The Rake’s Progress. Halcyon Days CEO, Pamela Harper agrees, ‘they are [both] organisations which are true to what they hold dear, with a great respect for the artisanal. Places where people come to enjoy a finely-tuned product, and where the respect for the artist is paramount.’

Working closely with their bespoke design team, and the Hockney studio, a new 13-piece collection was created, commemorating and celebrating the original Hockney designs from the 1975 The Rake’s Progress. It includes fine bone china mugs, teacup and saucer set, silk scarves, cufflinks and trinket box. All pieces feature a well-known image from Hockney’s set design, such as his chilling yet comical depiction of Bedlam, and the bespoke drop curtain, which showcases Hockney’s effective use of colour.

The Rake's Progress Collection by David Hockney
The Rake's Progress Collection by David Hockney

The drop curtain design also features on our Directors Chairs, which are perfect for garden parties, outdoor concerts and are made from sustainable, durable hardwood and finished with teak oil.

The Rake's Progress Collection by David Hockney

Complementing the collection, is a range of prints, cards and stationery produced by local fine art publishers King & McGaw. The range includes a screen print which reproduces Hockney’s ‘Baba the Turk’ poster, seen on stage in Act II of the opera. Also included in the range are postcard packs featuring Hockney’s costume and set designs.

The Rake's Progress Collection by David Hockney
Senior Graphic Designer and Photographer Benedict Stenning has worked on many of King & McGaw’s Glyndebourne prints, and he has a fascinating and purely coincidental personal connection to us. ‘Glyndebourne has played such a huge role in my life’ he explains, ‘My grandfather was Moran Caplat, who was Glyndebourne’s General Manager from 1949 to 1981, and my mother and father both worked and met at Glyndebourne’.
 
Ben’s mother worked in the press department and his father worked in stage management. Delving into our photography archive has brought Benedict closer to his family history. ‘I have found so many great images of my grandfather in the archive, including an amazing set from the studio conference for The Rake’s Progress, where you can see him talking to David Hockney and [director] John Cox about the designs’. Consequently, this year’s Hockney prints are particularly resonant for Benedict, ‘to be able to work with Glyndebourne is something really special to me’ he adds.