WALTER RICHARD SICKERT RA (1860 - 1942)
Le Mont De Neuville, Dieppe
• Oil on board, 9½ x 7½" (24 x 19cm)
• Presented in original gilt frame
• Signed lower right, executed circa 1906
• Price on application
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London;
Lillian Browse, Sickert, Rupert Hart-Davis, London, 1960, cat. no. 4, p.62 (related work);
Wendy Baron, Sickert, Phaidon, London, 1973, cat. no. 66.5, p.308;
Wendy Baron, Sickert, Paintings and Drawings, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2006, cat. no. 85.5, p.203
Dieppe became one of the most significant settings for Sickert's personal and professional life and held his attention for over four decades. The connections he made with French contemporaries in this vivid seaside resort established his role as a major proponent of avante-garde painting back in Britain at the turn of the Century. In listing the various versions of this Dieppe scene, Wendy Baron notes that although the view is similar, it is likely they were painted over a number of years, with the earliest variants being those from the late 1880s and the present painting possibly dating to 1906. The version of this scene hanging in the Chateau-Musee in Dieppe is compositionally very similar to the present work, with the placing of the lone figure immediately beneath the street's lantern obvious in both. The work here demonstrates Sickert's perennial interest in sombre harmonies heightened by a thorough understanding of tone; the effect triumphs with the road's wet gutter reflections contrasting strongly with the rich brown of the painting's ground.
Walter Richard Sickert (1860 - 1942) is regarded as one of the most important figures of his time in British art, and his influence on figurative artists reaches well into the late 20th Century. Born in Munich in 1860, his family settled in London by the time he was six. Both his father and grandfather were painters but, following a classical education, Walter found his early interests in acting. This career on stage was short-lived and he quickly opted to study at the Slade School from 1881 where he met and became a student of Whistler. In 1883 he moved to Paris and worked with Degas for a while before moving to Dieppe where he later lived for six years until 1905. On his return to London he acted as a critical link for the transfer of modern French ideas into early 20th Century British art. The Allied Artists' Association (1908), the Camden Town Group (1911) and the London Group (1913) were all formed by artists in his circle. His love for Dieppe and the surrounding area drew him back for another four years from 1918, before finally settling in England in 1922 where he lived in London and Brighton, before moving to Broadstairs, Kent (1934), and finally to Bathampton, near Bath (1938).
Sickert's work is uniquely his own, although if any artists can be credited with facilitating his development, Whistler and Degas are certainly worthy of note. From Whistler he derived a thorough understanding of tone, playing with the intricacies of subtle modulations that characterise his interiors; from Degas, he learnt the method of creating work directly from photographs which helped pave the way for the use of more informal composition. One of his favourite subjects was interiors, often painted contre jour with nudes, and some of these works have become iconic such as the Camden Town Murder pictures. Other favourite subjects included urban scenes and theatres and music halls densely populated with figures. As well as a painter, Sickert was an outstanding etcher and was much loved for his charm, wit and ability to deliver stimulating talks and written commentary on art. Examples of his work are found in internationally renowned institutes of art and include Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery London.
Lillian Browse, Sickert, Rupert Hart-Davis, London, 1960
Wendy Baron, Sickert, Phaidon, London, 1973
Wendy Baron, Sickert, Paintings and Drawings, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2006
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