follower of Walter Richard Sickert

The Straw Hat

c.1911

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Artist
Follower of Walter Richard Sickert 1860–1942
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 279 x 190 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1941
Reference
N05309

Catalogue entry

Entry

Although the artist remains unidentified, this drawing of a young girl wearing a type of flat straw hat popularly associated with London street-sellers or costerwomen is an archetypal Camden Town Group subject. Formerly credited to Harold Gilman, but uncharacteristic of his style, the drawing has also been connected in the past with its previous owner, Walter Richard Sickert. The appearance of the model with her boater style hat, elaborately coiled hair and fur-collared coat, as well as her left-facing profile, is highly reminiscent of Sickert’s painting Mother and Daughter: Lou Lou I Love You 1911 (private collection),1 the related etching, Mother and Daughter, published in 1915,2 and its pen and ink study, reproduced in the New Age in July 1911 (fig.1).
In 1941 the Director of the Tate Gallery, John Rothenstein, asked his uncle and former Fitzroy Street Group member, Albert Rutherston (1881–1953), to give his opinion as to its authorship. In a letter to his nephew, Rutherston wrote:
I have examined very carefully the 2 drawings attributed to Innes & Gilman. [Randolph] Schwabe came along with me. He agrees entirely with my view of the Gilman – it is a Sickert – not a Gilman. The girl was my model for the Laundry and Coster Girls pictures & she only sat to Sickert (occasionally) apart from myself. This is corroborative evidence but apart from this Gilman could not have made this drawing. He had not this power with pencil & pen & the touch is Sickert’s – a careful Sickert.3
Despite Rutherston’s certainty, and despite the obvious similarity to other compositions, the careful tonal style of The Straw Hat is quite unlike Sickert’s style of draughtsmanship and since 1964 the work has been ascribed to a follower.4 This attribution has also been endorsed by the art historian Wendy Baron who believes the artist was

Nicola Moorby
February 2009

Notes

1
Reproduced in Wendy Baron, Sickert: Paintings and Drawings, New Haven and London 2006, no.368.
2
Ruth Bromberg, Walter Sickert Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London 2000, no.171.
3
Albert Rutherston, letter to John Rothenstein, 30 November 1941, Tate Archive TGA 8726/4/11.
4
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, Tate Gallery Catalogues: The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, vol.2, London 1964, p.641.
5
Wendy Baron, letter to Tate, February 2004, Tate Catalogue file.
6
Wendy Baron, letter to Tate, February 2004, Tate Catalogue file.
7
Paintings, Drawings and Etchings by Past and Present Pupils of Mr. Sickert, exhibition catalogue, Carfax Gallery, London 1913, nos.60–2. Regina Middleton was the niece of Diana White, a friend of Lucien and Esther Pissarro.
8
Matthew Sturgis, Walter Sickert: A Life, London 2005, p.400.
9
Albert Rutherston, ‘From Orpen and Gore to the Camden Town Group’, Burlington Magazine, vol.83, no.485, August 1943, p.202.
10
Ibid., p.203, Plate II, B.
11
Baron 2006, no.350.6. Reproduced in British and Irish Traditionalist and Modernist Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, Christie’s, London, 3 March 1989 (lot 309).
12
Anna Gruetzner Robins, Walter Sickert: Drawings, Aldershot and Vermont 1996, p.89.
13
Baron 2006, p.370.
14
Reproduced in Bromberg 2000, no.126.
15
See Nicola Moorby, ‘Portrait / Figure / Type’, in Modern Painters: The Camden Town Group, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2008, pp.97, 101, 102 and 106.

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