Walter Richard Sickert

The Print Shop, Dieppe

Oil on board: 9.3(h) x 7.2(w) in /

23.5(h) x 18.4(w) cm

Signed lower left: Sickert

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BS 210

 

WALTER RICHARD SICKERT RA, NEAC, RBA, RE, LG

 Munich 1860 – 1942 Bathampton, Somerset

 

The print shop, Dieppe

 

Signed lower left: Sickert

Oil on board: 9 ¼ x 7 ¼ in / 23.5 x 18.4 cm

Frame size: 15 x 13 in / 38.1 x 33 cm

 

Painted circa 1906

 

Provenance:

Sotheby’s London, 22nd June 1955, lot 133a

Roland, Browse & Delbanco, London, December 1955

Dr. M.L. Slotover, purchased from the above and then by descent  

 

Exhibited:

London, Arts Council of Great Britain, Tate Gallery, Sickert: Paintings and Drawings, 18th May – 19th June 1960, cat no. 47; this exhibition travelled to Southampton City Art Gallery 2nd – 24th July 1960 and Bradford City Art Gallery 30th July – 20th August 1960

 

Literature:

Wendy Baron, Sickert, Phaidon, London, 1973, p. 351, cat no. 283

Wendy Baron, Sickert Paintings and Drawings, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2006, p. 344, no. 300.2

 

 

Sickert, according to Jacques-Émile Blanche, was the Canaletto of Dieppe. None of the many painters who visited and painted the seaport captured its essence as did Sickert. He had long-standing connections with Dieppe through both his parents. When he lived in London, except for the war years 1915-18, he spent every summer painting its major sites, its crooked byways, its coast, its harbour, its casino and cabaret cafés. He made his home in and around Dieppe from 1898 until 1905, and again from 1919 until 1922. There is little of old Dieppe that he did not study over and over again. This vivid little painting describes the corner of rue Pecquet at its junction with rue St Catherine. The short length of rue Pecquet leads directly to the south door of the main church in Dieppe, St Jacques; rue Ste Catherine, with its covered arcade at the far end, flanks the south façade of the church. Each of these views was drawn and painted repeatedly by Sickert; none before 1906 hints at the presence of a print shop on this corner.   Indeed, a shop sign reading ‘Machines à Coudre’ above the premises in a drawing of c.1900-02 (Leeds Art Gallery, Baron 2006, Cat.145.12) indicates that it was then a sewing-machine shop. 

 

It is especially intriguing that Sickert returned to this corner in 1906, when the shop had changed its use to become a junk shop. 1906 was the year when Sickert hoped to supplement his income by scouring the junk shops of Paris (where he had a studio) to find unrecognised treasures which the painter William Rothenstein, at that time working as a dealer, would sell for him in London at a profit. His ‘finds’ in Paris included drawings by Daumier, Daubigny and Millet, and paintings by Delacroix and Gerome. Sickert’s skill as a connoisseur was shaky and his attributions proved too optimistic. None of his ‘finds’ sold, although one, bought in Paris in 1906 as a portrait of Victor Considérant by Delacroix, was given by Sickert in 1922 to the National Gallery, London.  Sickert’s attribution was discussed and dismissed in the exhibition ‘Close Examination: Fakes, Mistakes and Discoveries’, at the National Gallery in 2010.   

 

I digress, and now return to paintings of the scene in Dieppe variously identified as an antique, print or junk shop. The biggest (Private Collection, Baron 2006, cat.300.1) was probably painted in London (it is painted on an English-size canvas) from studies made in Dieppe. It presents the scene in context, from the arcade at the end of rue Ste Catherine to the corner with the shop front on rue Pecquet. The pavement which establishes the layout of the scene is fully delineated.  A double-sided study on board perhaps marks the moment when Sickert first came upon this subject. A fully-realised view of rue Pecquet looking towards the south door of St Jacques is on one side (Baron 2006, Cat. 308.1); on the verso is an unfinished sketch in oil and pencil, annotated with colour notes, of the junk shop on the corner. Although small in size, the two remaining paintings in oil on board are finished works in their own right as well as preparatory studies. The version in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York is an abrupt, close-up view of the front of the shop, presented with no surrounding space. The objects for sale, a clumsy chair on the corner, three pictures hanging askew, an haphazard assembly of smaller items on a long trestle table, are painted in an abstract mosaic of crusty paint.

 

The present painting, on the contrary, presents a comprehensive view of the scene. The cropping at the lower edge and on the right side as compared with the biggest of the four versions of the subject, sharpens the immediacy of its effect. The pavement edge in the foreground is gone. The effect of this minimal compositional alteration is to take us inside the scene instead of viewing it through a metaphorical window. The mix of bric-à-brac has been rearranged. The chair has been sold – or moved. It is a fine day in Dieppe, producing strong patches of sun and shade. A few sharp, broken lines of black, painted over the underlying patchwork of colour, somehow express a human presence. The handling is bold and free: dabs and scrapes of opaque paint in a wide range of vibrant colours – violet, vermilion, creamy pink, salmon, cold grey, white, emerald green – make this one of the Sickert’s most lively and attractive paintings of Dieppe.

 

© Wendy Baron

 

W.R. Sickert, The Antique Shop, c. 1906

Oil on cardboard: 9 ½ x 7 ½ in

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

 

 

 

WALTER RICHARD SICKERT RA, NEAC, RBA, RE, LG

 Munich 1860 – 1942 Bathampton, Somerset

 

Walter Richard Sickert was born in Munich on 31st May 1860, into a Danish-German family.  His father Oswald Adalbert Sickert was also an artist.  In 1868 his family moved to London and after attending a school in Reading, he studied at University College School, Bayswater Collegiate School and Kings College School.  Sickert first worked unsuccessfully as an actor before studying under Alphonse Legros at the Slade School of Fine Art.  He was James McNeill Whistler’s (1834-1903) assistant for a while, painting with him in Cornwall in 1884.  He also worked with Edgar Degas (1834-1917) in Paris.  In 1885 he married Ellen Melicent Ashburner Cobden.  Ellen officially divorced him in 1899.  In 1911 he married his art student Christine Drummond Angus.  She died in 1920. 

 

Although Sickert divided much of his time between visits to Dieppe and Venice, he returned to London in 1905 where he continued to produce sketches of music halls and their audiences.  Sickert spearheaded the renting of a studio which became a meeting place for artists, who if they contributed to the rent, called themselves the ‘Fitzroy Street Group’.  Some of these artists, including Spencer Gore, Harold Gilman, Robert Bevan and Charles Ginner, formed a short-lived, elected, exhibition society called the ‘Camden Town Group’. 

 

From 1919-22 Sickert lived in Dieppe.  He returned to Islington, and then took a house in Margate where he married his third wife, the painter Therese Lessore in 1926.  In 1938 he moved to Bathhampton where he died on 23rd January 1942, one of the most influential and avant-garde British artists of the twentieth century.

 

 

 

Modern BritishWalter Richard Sickert