Walter Richard Sickert

Rowlandson House - Sunset

1910–11

Artist
Walter Richard Sickert 1860–1942
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 610 x 502 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by Lady Henry Cavendish-Bentinck 1940
Reference
N05088

Not on display

Catalogue entry

Entry

Background

A rare contemporary photograph documenting the existence of the Camden Town Group features Walter Sickert and Spencer Gore in June 1911 reading newspaper clippings of reviews from the first group exhibition (fig.1). The garden in which the two artists were photographed is that belonging to Rowlandson House, a large property at 140 Hampstead Road, Camden Town rented by Sickert from 1910 to 1914. The painting Rowlandson House – Sunset shows the view from the garden at the back of the house during Sickert’s residency and represents an interesting and significant period in the artist’s life. At this time he was, with characteristic disregard for economy, already renting rooms for lodgings and studio work in at least three other London locations and sharing the expenses for 19 Fitzroy Street. Rowlandson House, however, was one of the most important of his addresses during the Camden Town period. Sickert himself named the house after the eighteenth-century caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827), a draughtsman whose work he greatly admired as containing ‘the breath of life’.1 ‘Rowlandson House’ was, therefore, an appropriate name for the premises since it was from here that Sickert ran a private art school, the most enduring and influential teaching venture of his career.
Rowlandson House was at the southern end of a short terrace of three Victorian houses that stood on Hampstead Road, in a small area of land between the street and the railway tracks leading north out of Euston. One of Sickert’s pupils, the writer Enid Bagnold (1889–1981), described it as ‘one of those odd broken houses that seemed to have had another house torn from its side, overhanging a railway (was it built on a bridge?)’.2 The area was completely transformed during the late 1960s by the creation of the Ampthill Estate and there is now no remaining trace of the building. An Ordnance Survey map from 1958 reveals that the house was still in existence at this date and that it was a substantial property with steps descending from an entrance at the right to a large garden stretching round behind the house. Rowlandson House – Sunset was painted from the lawn of the garden at the back of the house facing north up Hampstead Road. The art historian Wendy Baron has identified the view as ‘looking over the wall of his garden, past the backs of the next two, much narrower, houses to glimpse the rather grand united façade of the terrace built from No.247 Hampstead Road (Wellington House Academy where he had a studio) to the opening of Mornington Crescent’.3 Broken touches of pink and mauve paint in the sky intensify on the left, indicating the presence of the setting sun in the west. A number of paintbrush hairs caught in the paint reveal the vigour and force with which Sickert applied the pigment to the canvas.4 In the foreground of the painting at the left, a distinctive brick arch curves up from the leafy shrubs adjoining the wall. It is not clear what this construction might be but it looks like the remains of a partly destroyed outhouse, or perhaps a decorative feature across which flowers could be trained to grow.

Title and date

Urban landscape

Rowlandson House

Ownership

Nicola Moorby
January 2004

Notes

1
Walter Sickert, ‘Du Maurier’s Drawings’, Speaker, 27 March 1897, in Anna Gruetzner Robins (ed.), Walter Sickert: The Complete Writings on Art, Oxford and New York 2000, p.152.
2
Enid Bagnold, Enid Bagnold’s Autobiography, London 1985, p.72.
3
Wendy Baron, The Camden Town Group, London 1979, p.194.
4
Nancy Wade, ‘The Painting Technique of Walter Richard Sickert 1860–1942’, unpublished Diploma Research Project, Courtauld Institute of Art, Department of Conservation and Technology 2001, p.18.
5
New Age, 27 July 1911, p.300.
6
Tate Conservation file.
7
Robert L. Patten, George Cruikshank’s Life, Times and Art, vol.2, Cambridge 1996, p.283.
8
Ibid., p.286.
9
Reproduced in Ruth Bromberg, Walter Sickert Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London 2000, no.140.
10
Wendy Baron, Sickert, London 1973, p.352.
11
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, Tate Gallery Catalogues: The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, vol.2, London 1964, p.629.
12
Paintings and Drawings by Walter Sickert, exhibition catalogue, Carfax Gallery, London 1912 (53), annotated copy, Tate Library, reproduced in Anna Gruetzner Robins, Walter Sickert: Drawings, Aldershot and Vermont 1996, p.93.
13
Christie’s, London, 1 March 1974 (lot 116), reproduced in Wendy Baron, Sickert: Paintings and Drawings, New Haven and London 2006, no.324.1.
14
Sir Claude Phillips, ‘Walter Sickert’s Paintings’, Daily Telegraph, 28 November 1916.
15
Paintings by Walter Sickert, exhibition catalogue, Carfax Gallery, London 1916 (7), annotated copy, Tate Library.
16
Reproduced in An Ordinary Life: Camden Town Painters, exhibition catalogue, Aberdeen Art Gallery 1999 (36) and Baron 2006, no.324.2.
17
Reproduced in Baron 1979, no.59.
18
Reproduced in Spencer Frederick Gore 1878–1914, exhibition catalogue, Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London 1974 (14).
19
Exhibited in Camden Town Recalled, Fine Art Society, London 1976 (69, lent by Anthony d’Offay).
20
Reproduced in Wendy Baron, Perfect Moderns: A History of the Camden Town Group, Aldershot and Vermont 2000, no.55.
21
Bromberg 2000, p.22.
22
Ibid., p.23, nos.129, 135 and 138.
23
Ibid., p.22.
24
Robert Emmons, The Life and Opinions of Walter Richard Sickert, London 1941, p.139.
25
Wendy Baron and Richard Shone (eds.), Sickert: Paintings, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy, London 1992, p.53.
26
Tate N03181.
27
Walter Sickert, letter to Nan Hudson and Ethel Sands, [December 1910], Tate Archive TGA 9125/5, no.75.
28
Wendy Baron, Miss Ethel Sands and her Circle, London 1977, p.87 n.18. Knox’s handiwork can be seen in the altar frontal in Stanley Spencer’s Sandham Memorial Chapel at Burghclere in Hampshire (c.1935–6). For more on Knox, see Tate T13024.
29
See Tate N04364.
30
Emmons 1941, pp.138–9.
31
‘Sickert & Gosse School of Drawing and Painting’, pamphlet, Islington Local History Collection, 11.1.
32
Walter Sickert, letter to Nan Hudson and Ethel Sands, [December 1910], Tate Archive TGA 9125/5, no.75.
33
‘Sickert & Gosse School of Drawing and Painting’, pamphlet, Islington Local History Collection, 11.1.
34
Ibid.
35
Kathleen Fisher, Conversations with Sylvia, London and Edinburgh 1975, pp.33–4.
36
Walter Sickert, letter to Nan Hudson, 6 October 1913, Tate Archive TGA 9125/5, no.29.
37
Fisher 1975, p.34.
38
Reproduced in New Age, 17 August 1911, p.372.
39
Reproduced in Robins 1996, fig.39, p.70.
40
Bagnold 1985, pp.73–5.
41
Lillian Browse, Sickert, London 1960, p.44.
42
Paintings, Drawings and Etchings by Past and Present Pupils of Mr. Sickert, exhibition catalogue, Carfax Gallery, London 1913 (34).
43
Robert Gathorne-Hardy, Ottoline: The Early Memoirs of Lady Ottoline Morrell, London 1963, p.182.
44
Modern Pictures and Drawings, Lithographs, Etchings and Mezzotints of the British and Continental Schools: The Property of the Late Lady Henry Bentinck, auction catalogue, Christie’s, London, 19 April 1940.

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