Hockney interpreted descriptive passages of text from the Grimms’ sinister story. In this scene a maid throws water over the prince to give him ‘the shivers’.
Hockney has used the tonal qualities of aquatint to convey the water. In the actual story he is asleep when the water hits him, but Hockney’s boy waits passively, awake.
Hockney’s artistic inspiration for this image was the work of the 15th/16th-century Italian painter Vittore Carpaccio. He ‘borrowed’ the prince’s bed from Carpaccio’s famous
painting, The Dream of St Ursula.