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Sickert loved the theatre. He had admired the actress Peggy Ashcroft from one of her earliest stage appearances, as Desdemona in Shakespeare's tragedy Othello in 1930. This portrait was painted when Sickert was in his seventies; at this stage he often chose his subjects from newspaper images, in this case a photograph from the Radio Times of the actress on holiday in Venice. The painting's dry, grainy texture, and non-naturalistic, shadowless colouring puts a distance between background, figure and viewer. This painting combines two of Sickert's favourite themes: Venice and theatre.

August 2004