David Hockney's figurative paintings of the early 1960s are amongst his most inventive, personal and experiental.
For a young artist concerned with the possibilities of a new figurative art, Francis Bacon was a particular stimulus for David Hockney. As Henry Geldzahler has written:
'Francis Bacon was very much on Hockney's mind as a figurative artist who in an age dominated by abstraction continued to invent fresh and powerful personages with vigorous brushwork and varied paint quality. Bacon was in London, his habits and life-style topics of conversation and, most importantly, his paintings were often on view... As David Hockney was early committed to maintaining the human figure as the fittest subject for a painter, his admiration for England's best figurative artist was natural...
What Hockney needed at that time was a way in which to introduce his subjects into art, a device that had been legitimised but not used up.... A witty indication of Hockney's dilemna is a small painting ... called Little Head in which the figure is the usual circular form topping a vertical rectangle with rounded corners.... The clearest indication that we are confronted with a figure, beyond the juxtaposition of those head-like and body-like forms, is in the quite literal semi-colon that sets the features in the face.'
Henry Geldzahler, Hockney by Hockney, 1976, pp.11-12.
In the bottom right corner , Hockney introduces the number coding characteristic of his paintings of this period, in which 1 signifies A, 2, signifies B etc. , thus signing the work, 48, or DH (David Hockney)