Walter Richard Sickert

The Front at Hove (Turpe Senex Miles Turpe Senilis Amor)

1930

Artist
Walter Richard Sickert 1860–1942
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 635 x 762 mm
frame: 824 x 950 x 100 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1932
Reference
N04651

Not on display

Catalogue entry

Entry

In 1930 one newspaper reported ‘Sickert’s latest’:
Among those enjoying the benefit of this marvellous autumn at Brighton is Walter Sickert ... Sickert is in his seventieth year, but only yesterday I saw a beautiful picture he has painted, in his characteristic witty manner, of a couple sitting on a seat on the promenade.1
This painting, The Front at Hove (Turpe Senex Miles Turpe Senilis Amor), was the first landscape by Sickert to depict this part of the country since Brighton Pierrots (Tate T07041) fifteen years earlier. According to his friend and pupil Henry Rayner, it was painted from ‘old notes of the Brighton stay in 1926’.2
Forming personal connections with places was important to Sickert and integral to his success when painting landscapes. Certain territories enjoyed his favour at different moments throughout his lifetime: Dieppe and Envermeu, Venice, Camden Town and Islington, Bath and Bathampton, Chagford in Devon, and Thanet and Broadstairs in Kent. In 1926, shortly after marrying his third wife, Thérèse Lessore, he revisited one of his favoured haunts from previous years, spending the summer in Brighton.3 This sojourn by the seaside seems to have suited him so well that the following year he decided to return to find more permanent lodgings there. Sickert enjoyed the baths at Brighton and there were many old friends living nearby or visiting for a holiday themselves. London was accessible enough to make frequent journeys back to town if necessary. In May 1927 he took a studio in the Kemp Town area.4 He seems to have returned intermittently to Brighton over the next four years, only giving up the studio in 1931. It was probably during one of these trips that he painted The Front at Hove, a view looking towards the Regency townhouse development of Adelaide Crescent in the Brunswick area of Hove.
The painting shows the view standing on the promenade looking from the sea towards the Crescent. In the early nineteenth century Hove had been a fashionable area for wealthy holidaymakers who liked to stroll on the lawns along the front of Brunswick Terrace. Adelaide Crescent, named after Queen Adelaide who enjoyed visiting Brighton with her husband William IV, was built in 1830–4. The houses were large and particularly desirable since the curve of the façade of the Crescent afforded each property a view of the sea. In 1834 work on the development ground to a halt, however, after only ten houses had been built, possibly because Queen Victoria did not share her predecessors’ enthusiasm for the pleasures of Brighton and so the resort lost some of its fashionable appeal. Adelaide Crescent was not finally completed until the 1840s when the coming of the railway brought renewed investment to the area. In the 1930s, however, the area had somewhat lost its genteel associations and parts of it had fallen into a state of disrepair. Various plans for the redevelopment of the Crescent had been put forward and the dilapidated remnants of the earlier bygone era were in danger of vanishing forever.5 Such shabby grandeur no doubt appealed to Sickert who tended to be drawn to areas of former glory and declining fortune.

Nicola Moorby
August 2005

Notes

1
‘Sickert’s Latest’, ?1930, source unknown, Walter Sickert press cuttings, Islington Public Libraries, London.
2
Wendy Baron, Sickert: Paintings and Drawings, New Haven and London 2006, p.529.
3
Matthew Sturgis, Walter Sickert: A Life, London 2005.
4
Robert Emmons, The Life and Opinions of Walter Richard Sickert, London 1941, p.212.
5
Information supplied by Damian Kerr, http://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/, accessed March 2003.
6
Ovid, Amores, I, ix, line 4; quoted in Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, Tate Gallery Catalogues: The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, vol.2, London 1964, p.625.
7
Baron 2006, p.529.
8
‘Walter Sickert’s Class: Method of Instruction’, Manchester Guardian, 31 October 1930.
9
Wendy Baron and Richard Shone (eds.), Sickert: Paintings, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy, London 1992, p.298.
10
Wendy Baron, Sickert, London 1973, p.177.
11
Reproduced in Royal Academy 1992 (113).
12
French Gallery, letter to Tate Gallery, July 1932, Tate Acquisition file TG 4/2/956/1.
13
R.E.A. Wilson, letter to James Bolivar Manson, 3 February 1933, Tate Acquisition file TG 4/5/956/1.
14
Walter Richard Sickert, ‘Damnant Quod Non Intelligunt’, Daily Mirror, 24 March 1933.

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like