The etchings for this suite were inspired by the poem The Man with the Blue Guitar by the American poet Wallace Stevens. Written in 1936, the poem had in turn been inspired by the Picasso Blue Period painting of 1903 The Old Guitarist. Hockney had first read the poem in the summer of 1976 and made a series of drawings which were to lead to the etchings. He had not intended that they should be literal illustrations but rather interpretations of the verse. The prints are filled with references to Picasso, and in both the vast array of imagery and styles, coupled with the technical virtuosity employed by Hockney; the prints are a homage to the Spanish master. Picasso’s blue period painting of a blind musician is reproduced in aquatint amidst references to other works by Picasso in various styles. He made a total of 20 etchings, each printed in a selection of five colours using the Crommelynck technique, which were published in limited portfolio editions by Petersburg Press in October 1977.