Thursday, July 22, 2010

Picture of the Week No.27 - Sickert

Picture of the week has had a few weeks off recently while several of the small team here at the Art Gallery and Museum have a well deserved week or two off, but now it's back and we're looking this week at an artist represented in the collection by 3 prints, a watercolour and 4 drawings: Walter Richard Sickert. Sickert is a big favourite of mine since I was first introduced to his work by my late art history lecturer John Rimmer, who sadly passed away a couple weeks ago.

The picture that first really grabbed me was the Tate's Minnie Cunningham at the Old Bedford with its glowing red and scumbled browns, and the music hall was a prominent theme for Sickert during the late 19th century. This week's picture is set in the same venue in Camden Town but features a diffenent act. Little Dot Hetherington at the Bedford Music Hall, c.1894 is a lithograph after a painting of the same name. The performer in her white dress, illuminated by the stage lights. points up to the gallery in reference to the title of the song she is singing -‘The Boy I Love Is Up In The Gallery, later made famous by another music hall artiste, Marie Lloyd.The seats at the bottom of the compostion and the heads of the audience place the viewer very much within the audience and makes the subject not just the performer on stage but also the whole event and experience of seeing these performances and of course the setting itself. There is also a version painted on a fan in the Fan Museum that can be viewed here. KP

Walter Richard SICKERT (1860-1942)Little Dot Hetherington at the Bedford Music Hall, c.1894

Entry from the Print Catalogue:Accession Number: P.559
lithograph, 28 × 26.2 cm (image)
inscribed: Sickert inv et lith in plate
To Max WS in ink
PROVENANCE: Max Beerbohm – see inscription; Christopher Mendez & Co, from whom purchased by Gallery, May 1967.
REFERENCES: R. Bromberg, Walter Sickert Prints, 2000, no.118, pp.100-1.
NOTES: Not editioned and few impressions printed.

The work shows Dot Hetherington singing ‘The Boy I Love Is Up In The Gallery at the Bedford Palace of Varieties, High Street, Camden Town, named after the Duke of Bedford, on whose estate the hall was built. The Bedford Music Hall was first opened in 1861 and re-built in 1899 following a fire. It was closed in 1959 and demolished in 1969. The lithograph was based on the oil painting of this subject in the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (B.179.12.819). Sickert drew the design onto the lithographic stone and scratched out the highlights using a needle. This can be seen to best effect on the lower horizontal bar.

The artist gave this work to Sir Max Beerbohm (1872-1956), writer and caricaturist.

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