Walter Richard Sickert

Belvedere, Bath

c.1917

Artist
Walter Richard Sickert 1860–1942
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 711 x 711 mm
frame: 845 x 846 x 70 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by Lady Henry Cavendish-Bentinck 1940
Reference
N05087

Not on display

Catalogue entry

Entry

Early on in his career Walter Sickert had formed the habit of leaving London during the summer months and vacationing in a chosen location, usually Dieppe, which he adopted as a second home. During the war years, however, Sickert was unable to cross the Channel and was forced to seek a new holiday destination. The search for a suitable alternative led him to Brighton, Sussex in 1915 and Chagford, Devon in 1916. Finally in 1917 he visited the historic city of Bath and liked it so much that he established himself there in 1918. He and his wife, Christine, rented a house named ‘The Lodge’ at Entry Hill, and a studio room at 10 Bladud Buildings in the heart of town. By the following year, the war was over and Sickert was able to resume his annual trip to France. Bath evidently retained happy memories for him, however, and he returned twenty years later to live in nearby Bathampton, which was to be his last home.
In his summer retreat Sickert was seeking a place where he could rest and work, find inspiration in new sights and yet strengthen ties and connections to the place, revelling in a sense of familiarity and belonging. With some places he exhausted the possibilities and resources quickly and moved on, while with others he returned year after year. Bath had long been famous for its Roman baths and Georgian architecture and Sickert was probably drawn to its reputation as a place for restorative recreation and rest. A contemporary guide to the area describes the aesthetic attractions of the city and the particular quality of the light to be found there:
It lies in a hollow among the beautiful hills; its charming terraces and crescents, even as seen from the railway, are an alluring view, especially when evening is covering them in its haze, we cannot pass through it without a stirring of the imagination, a conjuring of old ghosts ... Bath’s hills ... are gentle and pastoral, and they give the town its own peculiar climate which some persons find relaxing ... there is often a touch of dream, of unreality, fitly clinging to a spot whose true life seems to belong to the past.1

Nicola Moorby
September 2005

Notes

1
Arthur L. Salmon, Bath and Wells, London, Glasgow, Bombay 1914, pp.5–6.
2
Matthew Sturgis, Walter Sickert: A Life, London 2005, p.493.
3
Walter Sickert, letter to Ethel Sands, [?1918], Tate Archive TGA 9125/5, no.81.
4
Walter Sickert, letter to Nina Hamnett, [1918]; quoted in Marjorie Lilly, Sickert: The Painter and his Circle, New Jersey 1973, p.85.
5
Denise Hooker, Nina Hamnett: Queen of Bohemia, London 1986, pp.119–20.
6
‘Old and New Methods in Art’, Times, 10 November 1919.
7
‘The Week’s Art’, Evening Standard, 8 November 1919.
8
Lilly 1973, p.87.
9
See Wendy Baron, Sickert: Paintings and Drawings, New Haven and London 2006, nos.493.5–10.
10
Ibid., no.493.6.
11
Sickert Archive, Islington Public Libraries.
12
Accession number 1933–11–14–8.
13
Reproduced in Lillian Browse and R.H. Wilenski, Sickert, London 1943, pl.48a.
14
Reproduced in British and Irish Traditionalist and Modernist Painting, Drawings and Sculpture, Christie’s, London, 3 March 1989 (lot 313) and Baron 2006, no.493.
15
Reproduced in Witt Library, Courtauld Institute of Art, London and Baron 2006, no.493.2.
16
Ibid., no.493.3.
17
Ibid., no.493.4.

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