Walter Richard Sickert

Sketch for ‘The Statue of Duquesne, Dieppe’


Not on display

Walter Richard Sickert 1860–1942
Carbon paper tracing and watercolour on paper
Support: 324 × 235 mm
Bequeathed by Lady Henry Cavendish-Bentinck 1940

Catalogue entry


The focus of this drawing is a statue of Admiral Abraham Duquesne (1610–1688) which stands in the Place Nationale, Dieppe and is popularly known as ‘Le Grand Duquesne’. A celebrated son of the town, Duquesne had been a distinguished naval hero, most famous for his defeat of the Spanish–Dutch fleet under the command of Admiral de Ruyter in 1676. The monument was the work of the French sculptor, Antoine Laurent Dantan (known as Dantan the Elder, 1798–1878), an artist whom Sickert was supposed to have admired and even collected.1 During Sickert’s permanent residency in the town in the years 1898–1905 the statue became one of his favourite and most oft-repeated subjects, in particular across a series of paintings dating from the period 1899–1900.2 Additionally, he revisited the theme in one of six large-scale canvases commissioned in 1902 by the owner of the Hôtel de la Plage in Dieppe, Monsieur Mantren, as decorations for his restaurant (fig.1).3
Sickert once described Dieppe as his ‘goldmine’ which provided him with ‘a little decent comfort’.4 Following the advice of Ernest Brown of the Fine Art Society who proposed that ‘watercolours sold always like fire’, the artist seems to have tried to capitalise on his repertory of Dieppe views by making ‘tinted drawings’ of many of the same subjects.5 The art historian Wendy Baron has described these works on paper as ‘commercial drawings’, saleable products which were traced from a primary document and quickly worked up into different permutations of the same theme.6 This view of the statue of Duquesne is a transfer drawing made using typewriter carbon paper with watercolour applied over the transferred design. It is not known whether this unusual use of media constituted an innovative form of printmaking (similar to monotype) or whether Sickert was simply experimenting with ways of manufacturing multiple images. The textural, sketchy quality of the line is reminiscent of the artist’s etchings and soft-ground etchings. However, he may also have been influenced by Edgar Degas’s practice of making coloured variations from multiple traced images (see the discussion for Tate N03810).

Nicola Moorby
September 2009


W.R. Sickert: Drawings and Paintings 1890–1942, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, Liverpool 1989, p.30.
Wendy Baron, Sickert: Paintings and Drawings, New Haven and London 2006, nos.125–125.9.
Ibid., no.125.5.
Walter Sickert, letter to Mrs Humphrey; quoted in Baron 2006, [p.37].
Quoted ibid., p.39.
Ibid., p.39 and p.236 under nos.125.10–12.
Ibid., no.125.11.
Reproduced ibid., no.125; with Agnew’s, London, 2006.
Reproduced ibid., no.125.10; Christie’s, London, 9 June 2006 (lot 19).

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