Walter Richard Sickert

Girl at a Window, Little Rachel


Walter Richard Sickert 1860–1942
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 508 × 406 mm
frame: 765 × 665 × 75 mm
Accepted by HM Government in lieu of tax and allocated to the Tate Gallery 1991

Display caption

This is one of six paintings and numerous drawings of Sickert’s frame-maker’s 13-year-old daughter, known affectionately as ‘Little Rachel’. Sickert described the series as a ‘set of studies of Illumination’. The scene outside the window is Mornington Crescent Gardens, Camden. The girl’s gaze is turned away from both the artist and the view. The closed window may suggest the future that was expected of her at the time, a future inside the home, as a wife and mother.

Gallery label, October 2020

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Catalogue entry


Sickert painted Girl at a Window, Little Rachel during the summer of 1907, putting off his planned trip to Dieppe and Paris as he became interested in the sequence of paintings he was making. It was an important period for the artist, when he self-consciously tried to consolidate and extend his artistic development. He wrote to his friend, the artist Nan Hudson:
I am clear-sighted enough to realize that the backward position I am in, for my age, and my talent, is partly my own fault. I have done too many slight sketches, & too few considered, elaborate works. Too much study for sake of study, & too few résumés of the results of study ... I shall try this summer to do a few really complete canvases in Dieppe and Paris.1
But Sickert stayed on in his Mornington Crescent rooms, from where he later wrote to Hudson:
I am very much afraid you must be having a hell of a time by the Thames. Even I in my ark in the crescent am chilly.
This is to tell you I have got entangled in a batch of a dozen or so interiors on the first floor here. A typical lodgings first-floor. If you are in London any day & could come I should like to show you a set of studies of illumination half done. I am very much interested & shall stay till they are done. A little Jewish girl of 13 or so with red hair & a nude alternate days.2
There are five other known oils of the same sitter: Girl at a Looking-Glass, Little Rachel (fig.1);3 Little Rachel (National Art Gallery of Queensland, Brisbane),4 a head and shoulders portrait, probably seated on Sickert’s bed; Little Rachel (private collection),5 a three-quarter-length portrait of the sitter half turned, with light falling on her face; and Little Rachel (Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery),6 an oil study in profile. In all these works she wears the same blouse as in Tate’s picture. There are several drawings of Rachel, some of which relate to these paintings, but none of them is a study for Tate’s oil.7

Robert Upstone
May 2009


Walter Sickert, letter to Nan Hudson, undated, Tate Archive TGA 9125/5, no.20.
Walter Sickert, letter to Nan Hudson, undated, Tate Archive TGA 9125/5, no.25.
3 Wendy Baron, Sickert: Paintings and Drawings, New Haven and London 2006, no.338.
Baron 2006, no.340; reproduced in Lillian Browse, Sickert, London 1943, pl.34.
Reproduced in Baron 2006, no.339 and Britain Today, no.63, 3 October 1941.
Baron 2006, no.341; reproduced in Wendy Baron, Sickert, London 1973, pl.184.
Baron 2006, nos.337–41.
See ibid., no.337.
Letter to the author, 19 December 1991, Tate Catalogue file.
Walter Sickert, ‘A Stone Ginger’, New Age, 19 March 1914, p.631, in Anna Gruetzner Robins (ed.), Walter Sickert: The Complete Writings on Art, Oxford 2000, p.344.
Walter Sickert, letter to Nan Hudson, undated, Tate Archive TGA 9125/5, no.20.
Quoted in W.R. Sickert: Drawings and Paintings 1890–1942, exhibition catalogue, Tate Liverpool 1989, p.16.
Sickert is referring to his reflected self-portrait The Painter in his Studio 1907 (Hamilton Art Gallery, Ontario); reproduced in Baron 2006, no.331 and Sickert: Paintings, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy, London 1992 (63).
Walter Sickert, letter to Nan Hudson, Tate Archive TGA 9125/5; see Baron 1973, p.114 n.4.
See Matthew Sturgis, Walter Sickert: A Life, London 2005, pp.366–7.
See Richard Shone in From Beardsley to Beaverbrook: Portraits by Walter Richard Sickert, exhibition catalogue, Victoria Art Gallery, Bath 1990, no.41.

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