Walter Richard Sickert

Les Arcades de la Poissonnerie, Dieppe

c.1900

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 612 x 502 mm
frame: 878 x 775 x 62 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1939
Reference
N05045

Display caption

Following the breakdown of his marriage, Sickert moved to Dieppe in 1898, where he remained for the next seven years. 'I cannot stand another winter in London', he had written, 'It is too dark and life is too short.' He devoted himself solely to painting the town, capturing its ordinary and slightly shabby streets and houses with an informal naturalism. His friend Jacques-Emile Blanche, the French painter, wrote 'No other artist has so perfectly felt and expressed the character of the town, whose Canaletto he has become.'
The Arcades de la Poissonnerie are next to the harbour in Dieppe.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

Entry

The subject of this painting is part of the Quai Duquesne, a boulevard in Dieppe which runs along the side of the Bassin Duquesne on the western edge of the harbour. Sickert’s view shows the street from an oblique angle so that the picture plane is dominated by the dark imposing line of arcaded frontages until it is relieved by the light and colour of the sunset sky in the top right-hand corner. The building in the centre of the composition is one which stood near the old Customs House, in between the Rue Notre Dame (the first street opening on the left) and the Rue Saint-Jean (second left). Owing to its proximity to the fish market at the end of the quay it was known as the Arcades de la Poissonnerie. A near contemporary photograph shows that during the early twentieth century it comprised a series of small shops, cafés and hotels,1 while Sickert’s etching, Dieppe, La Rue Notre Dame 1909,2 reveals that the first arch nearest to the viewer housed the ‘Café Marine’.
Sickert had a long-standing connection with Dieppe dating back to childhood holidays with his family. For over thirty years he spent nearly every summer there, and between 1898 and 1905 he also made it his permanent home. Along with Venice and London, it was the place which provided the greatest and most consistent source of inspiration for his art. He roamed freely around Dieppe painting landscapes which provide an extensive visual record of the key sights and landmarks, streets and markets, harbour and quays, the seafront and the fishermen’s quarter of Le Pollet (see, for example, Tate N03182). As was his wont, certain subjects came to exercise a particular fascination for him and he revisited them repeatedly, making numerous variations upon a chosen motif, such as the statue of Admiral Duquesne in the Place Nationale (see Tate N05096), or the Gothic façade of the church of St Jacques (see Tate N05094). Les Arcades de la Poissonnerie is just one of a large number of paintings and sketches dating from his seven-year residency which documents the Quai Duquesne,3 while a popular related theme was the view looking down the Rue Notre Dame towards the cupola and tower of St Jacques, which featured the same two buildings on the immediate left and centre of this painting.4 A personal reason for his focus on this part of town may have been that the Arcades de la Poissonnerie was also the address of his Dieppoise mistress, Augustine (Titine) Villain, a local woman who ran a stall in the fish market.5

Nicola Moorby
September 2009

Notes

1
See image on http://www.quiquengrogne-dieppe.com/2009/04/les-arcades-dieppe.html, accessed August 2009. See also a watercolour by Walter Taylor, Les Arcades de la Poissonnerie 1911 (Brighton and Hove Museums), reproduced at http://www.virtualmuseum.info/art/qz_20th/taylor_w.asp, accessed August 2009, and Charles Ginner, La Vieille Balayeuse, Dieppe 1913 (Tate T13025).
2
Reproduced in Ruth Bromberg, Walter Sickert Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London 2000, no.134.
3
See Wendy Baron, Sickert: Paintings and Drawings, New Haven and London 2006, nos.138–138.5.
4
See, for example, La Rue Notre Dame and the Quai Duquesne c.1899 (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford) and related pictures; reproduced in Baron 2006, nos.126–126.21.
5
Matthew Sturgis, Walter Sickert: A Life, London 2005, p.266.
6
Jacques-Émile Blanche, Portraits of a Lifetime, trans. and ed. by Walter Clement, London 1937, p.45.
7
Reproduced in Baron 2006, no.117.
8
Reproduced ibid., no.138.
9
Ibid., no.138.5; reproduced in 20th Century British Art, Bonhams, London, 30 November 2004 (lot 16).
10
Baron 2006, no.526.1; reproduced in Sotheby’s, London, 10 December 2008 (lot 9). See also image in Tate Catalogue file.

Read full Catalogue entry