The Camden Town Group in Context

Walter Richard Sickert Study for 'L'Armoire à Glace' c.1922

This quick preparatory study has been sketched on laid paper in a graphic medium, and subsequently reinforced with ink. Walter Sickert has omitted the doorway which frames the interior view in the final image (Tate N05313), and his brusque cross-hatchings here reproduce few details aside from rough shadowing and figurative composition. The woman behind the wardrobe appears gaunt, and almost skeletal. It is one of a series of drawings Sickert made in Dieppe from which the visual appearance of the painting, executed in London, developed.
Walter Richard Sickert 1860–1942
Study for ‘L’Armoire à glace’
c.1922
Ink on paper
281 x 132 mm
Inscribed by the artist in black ink ‘Sickert’ bottom left, ‘L’armoire à glace’ bottom right, in red ink ‘11 x 5’ top right, ‘Reduce to 5 x 2½.’ on back.
Presented by Roland, Browse and Delbanco, London 1952
N06087

Entry

This drawing appears to be an early preparatory sketch relating to the oil painting L’Armoire à glace 1924 (Tate N05313, fig.1) and the earlier etched version of 1922.1 In common with Ennui c.1914 (Tate N03846) and other earlier paintings of domestic interiors, the visual appearance of the painting developed across a sequence of images. A full list can be found in Wendy Baron’s 2006 catalogue.2 There are two preparatory sketches in Tate’s collection (Tate N05312, fig.2, and N06087). This study has been sketched rapidly in order to capture an impression of the composition. There is little detail and the cross-hatched lines added to indicate shading or tone have been blocked-in very roughly. The image omits the door that frames the view in the finished etching and painting.
Walter Richard Sickert 'L'Armoire à Glace' 1924
Fig.1
Walter Richard Sickert
L'Armoire à Glace 1924
© Tate
Walter Richard Sickert 'Study for 'L'Armoire à glace'' 1922
Fig.2
Walter Richard Sickert
Study for 'L'Armoire à glace' 1922
© Tate

In execution and detail the drawing is closest in appearance to two other sketches, Woman Sitting by a Wardrobe c.1922 (pencil and pen on buff paper, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool)3 and Study for ‘L’Armoire à glace’ or Prou[s]t’s Parlour c.1922 (pen and black ink on tan paper with squaring-up, private collection).4 In all three of these drawings the female figure appears thin and gaunt and is possibly a different model from that shown in the rest of the sequence. She appears to cower in the shadow of the room, partially hidden by the wardrobe. Her legs are stretched out before her and crossed at the ankle and her arms appear unnaturally long and stiff. In the Tate drawing, in particular, the head of the model is reduced to a skeletal white face peering from the gloom. In the more fully developed sketches, painting and etching the woman is stouter and more robust. Her hands are folded more comfortably across her lap and her feet are planted apart. This changes the mood of the piece so that the emotional effect is one of placid contentment rather than anxiety and unease.

Nicola Moorby
April 2005

Notes

1
Reproduced in Ruth Bromberg, Walter Sickert Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London 2000, no.200.
2
Wendy Baron, Sickert: Paintings and Drawings, New Haven and London 2006, nos.557.1–11.
3
Baron 2006, no.557.4; reproduction in Witt Library, Courtauld Institute of Art, London.
4
Baron 2006, no.557.2; reproduced in Bromberg 2000, no.200b.

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘Study for ‘L’Armoire à glace’ c.1922 by Walter Richard Sickert’, catalogue entry, April 2005, in Helena Bonett, Ysanne Holt, Jennifer Mundy (eds.), The Camden Town Group in Context, May 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/camden-town-group/walter-richard-sickert-study-for-larmoire-a-glace-r1139852, accessed 02 July 2015.