Walter Richard Sickert

Baccarat - the Fur Cape

1920

Artist
Walter Richard Sickert 1860–1942
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 591 x 419 mm
frame: 834 x 676 x 59 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by Lady Henry Cavendish-Bentinck 1940
Reference
N05089

Not on display

Display caption

Sickert advocated painting scenes of everyday life. Most of his paintings of the 1920s were ‘low-life’ views, though he also painted some grander scenes. The futility of gambling probably appealed to his slightly jaundiced view of the world.Sickert lived in Dieppe on and off throughout his life. In 1920 he painted several pictures of the casino at Dieppe, the focus of fashionable life in the summer. Oliver Brown, later Sickert’s dealer, met him there in about 1920. Sickert was ‘drawing on small scraps of paper’, and ‘gaily remarked I am the only one who will make any money in this room’.

Gallery label, July 2007

Catalogue entry

Entry

Background

Baccarat – The Fur Cape shows the eponymous game of cards under way in the casino at Dieppe in 1920. Eight players (or perhaps more), both men and women, are visible around the green baize table, which is numbered ‘100’ and lit from above by green fringed lampshades. Sickert’s interest is not engaged by the progress of the game but rather by the appearance of the wealthy and fashionable players. The table is completely obscured by the central figure, a woman in an orange fur cape and a bright orange, broad-brimmed hat trimmed with a red feather. She sits in a chair with a curved frame, her back to the viewer so that nothing is visible of her except her clothes. The appearance of the other gamblers at the table is also obscured. Sickert has reduced the figures to broken patches of acidic colour reflecting the harsh, transforming glare of the electric light. Particularly strange is the trio of figures in the background partially hidden by the orange hat. The two standing figures with blank white faces are recognisable as women only by their green hats, while the man seated at the table in front of them has a green and pink face which gives him a bizarre mask-like appearance.
Sickert produced a large number of casino paintings and drawings during this period, most of which focus on the activity in the baccarat room. The art historian Wendy Baron has identified a related oil painting to Tate’s version in Phoenix Art Museum.1 Other known finished works are:
Baccarat 1920 (private collection, formerly ?Lord and Lady Cottesloe)2
Baccarat 1920 (whereabouts unknown, inscribed ‘à Mademoiselle Levache | Souvenir de Walter et Christine Sickert – Envermeu 1920’)3
Baccarat, Dieppe 1920 (City Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand)4
Baccarat 1920 (private collection, formerly Walter Howarth)5
The composition of the latter two works is close in appearance to Tate’s painting. Baccarat, Dieppe shows the back of the lady seated at the table, flanked by two male players. Like the woman in Tate’s version, the position at which she sits makes it impossible to see her face, or any identifying features other than her clothes. Sickert also completed an etching and drypoint based upon the Cottesloe picture,6 while another casino subject is Banco! (whereabouts unknown).7

Casino Mauresque

Dieppe

Gambling

Nicola Moorby
May 2005

Notes

1
Wendy Baron, Sickert: Paintings and Drawings, New Haven and London 2006, no.545.1.
2
Reproduced ibid., no.543 and in 20th Century British and Irish Art, Christie’s, London, 19 November 2004 (lot 88).
3
Baron 2006, no.543.1; reproduced in Paintings by Richard Sickert A.R.A., exhibition catalogue, Beaux Arts Gallery, London 1933 (27).
4
Reproduced in Baron 2006, no.544.
5
Ibid., no.546; reproduced in Sickert 1860–1942, exhibition catalogue, Roland, Browse and Delbanco, London 1960 (7).
6
Reproduced in Ruth Bromberg, Walter Sickert Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London 2000, no.193.
7
Sickert: Retrospective Exhibition, exhibition catalogue, Leicester Galleries, London 1929 (75, reproduced in between pp.8–9).
8
WAG 5415. Baron 2006, no.545.3; reproduced in Tate Catalogue file.
9
WAG 5416. Ibid., no.545.4; reproduced ibid.
10
WAG 5417. Ibid., no.545.5.
11
Baron 2006, no.545.2; reproduced in Christie’s, London, 22 February 1980 (lot 48).
12
Exhibited in Sickert and Blanche, Parkin Gallery, London 1982 (18); reproduced in Tate Catalogue file.
13
Anaïs Kot, ‘Une ville, cinq casinos’, Les Dossiers de quiquengrogne, July 2000, http://www.dieppe.fr/system/wysiwyg_files/datas/227/original/quiquengrogne43.pdf?1255445485, accessed May 2005.
14
Simona Pakenham, Sixty Miles from England: The English at Dieppe 1814–1914, London, Melbourne and Toronto 1967, p.136.
15
Jacques-Émile Blanche, More Portraits of a Lifetime: 1918–1939, London 1939, p.105.
16
Wendy Baron, Sickert, London 1973, fig.107; see also The Road to the Casino, Dieppe 1907, oil on board, reproduced in Modern British Art, Sotheby’s, London, 2 June 2004 (lot 21).
17
Arthur Symons, Cities and Sea-Coasts and Islands, London 1918, pp.231–2.
18
George Day, Seaford, Newhaven and Lewes with a Chapter upon Dieppe: A Handbook for Visitors and Residents, London 1912, p.84.
19
Vernet’s, Dieppe 1920, private collection, reproduced in Sickert: Paintings, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy of Arts, London 1992 (96).
21
Matthew Sturgis, Walter Sickert: A Life, London 2005, p.515.
22
Ibid.
23
Oliver Brown, Exhibition: The Memoirs of Oliver Brown, London 1968, p.134.
24
Professor Louis Hoffman, Baccarat: Fair and Foul; Being an Explanation of the Game, and a Warning Against its Dangers, London 1891, pp.118–19.
25
Roy Hattersley, The Edwardians, London 2004, p.23.
26
Blanche 1939, p.120.
27
Denys Sutton, Walter Sickert: A Biography, London 1976, pp.196–7.
28
Reproduced in Royal Academy 1992 (16).
29
Symons 1918, p.232.
30
Reproduced in Baron 2006, no.548.
31
Ibid., no.548.1; reproduced in From Sickert to Gertler: Modern British Art from Boxted House, exhibition catalogue, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh 2008 (35).

Read full Catalogue entry