Sickert and photography

Sickert once said that photography was like alcohol: it should only be used by someone who could do without it. In his later life he replaced sketching with photography. "A photograph is the most precious document obtainable by a sculptor, a painter, or a draughtsman. Canaletto based his work on tracings made with the camera lucida. Turner’s studio was crammed with negatives...Degas took photographs" (1929). He paved the way for Bacon, Warhol, Richter, etc.
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Variation on Peggy (1934-5) by Walter Richard Sickert. Portrait of the actress on the Accademia Bridge in Venice. The painting is based on a black-and-white press photograph published by the Radio Times in 1934. The vibrant but limited palette seems to refer to colours used in the four-colour printing process as seen in an advertisement on the back of the same edition of the magazine. The painting deliberately and unnervingly juxtaposes past and present.

Walter Richard Sickert, 'Variation on Peggy' (The Camden Town Group in Context)

Walter Richard Sickert 'The Raising of Lazarus' c.1929

Walter Richard Sickert, 'The Servant of Abraham' 1929 (The Camden Town Group in Context)

Photograph of Walter Richard Sickert (c.1929) by Thérèse Lessore. This image, squared-up for transfer on to canvas, was the source of Sickert's painting The Servant of Abraham. Taken from below so that the subject looms over the viewer, Sickert has been lit from behind so that his face is largely in shadow, but his head, with the distinctive square-cut beard, is dramatically outlined in white light. Thérèse Lessore was Sickert's third wife.

‘The Servant of Abraham’, Walter Richard Sickert, 1929

Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies as Queen Isabella of France (tipsimages )

gwen ffrangcon-davies as queen Isabella of france the photo before Sickert painted her

H.M. King Edward VIII (1936) by Walter Richard Sickert. A photograph freezes movement and allows Sickert to show the monarch in the act of walking, just after stepping out of his car. The photograph was taken by Express newspaper photographer Harold Clements, whom Sickert paid the 17/6 agency reproduction fee, cheekily rewriting Clements’s complaint: “[Sickert]...has given my photograph and myself an importance which I could never have otherwise attained.”

Walter Richard Sickert, 'H. King Edward VIII' Full length portrait, life size paited from a photograph.

The Front at Hove (Turpe Senex Miles Turpe Senilis Amor) (1930) by Walter Richard Sickert. The faded, shabby grandeur of Hove's Regency Crescents echoes the couple on the bench: the painting's subtitle from Ovid translates as ‘An old soldier is a wretched thing, so also is senile love’. Sickert spent the summer of 1926 in Brighton, and from May 1927 to 1931 rented a studio in the Kemp Town area.

The Front at Hove (Turpe Senex Miles Turpe Senilis Amor), 1930 - Walter Sickert

Miss Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies as Isabella of France (1932) by Walter Richard Sickert. The actress as Queen Isabella of France in Christopher Marlowe's play Edward II. "La Louve" means "She-Wolf". The painting is from a photograph taken by a professional photographer named Bertram Park. "I have made it quite clear by painting ‘Bertram Park Photo’ in a corner of the canvas that the portrait was copied from a photograph." (Sickert)

Walter Richard Sickert, 'Miss Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies as Isabella of France' 1932 (The Camden Town Group in Context)

Miss Earhart's Arrival (1932) by Walter Richard Sickert. The painting was completed and exhibited just seven days after the source photograph’s publication on the front page of the Daily Sketch on 23 May 1932. The Observer commented that although Sickert was a ‘brilliant’ artist, ‘intellectual passivity’ had made him a ‘slave to the camera’.

Walter Richard Sickert, 'Miss Earhart's Arrival' 1932 (The Camden Town Group in Context)

The Servant of Abraham (1929) by Walter Richard Sickert. The painting was made from a photograph taken by Sickert's third wife, Thérèse Lessore. Sickert was aged 69.

The Servant of Abraham by Walter Richard Sickert. The painting was made from a photograph taken by Sickert's third wife, Thérèse Lessore. Sickert was aged

Sketch for The Raising of Lazarus (1929-32) by Walter Richard Sickert. In 1929 Walter Sickert was given a life-size lay figure, alleged to have once belonged to William Hogarth, and the sight of it being delivered to his studio inspired him to paint three works based on the event which he reinterpreted as the raising of Lazarus. This is the second sketch.

Sketch for 'The raising of Lazarus', by Walter Richard Sickert :: The Collection

Sickert and Photography, Tate Britain, 4 July 2016 - 17 April 2017

Sickert and Photography, Tate Britain, 4 July 2016 - 17 April 2017

The source image for Sickert's large-scale painting, Miss Earhart's Arrival, is a photograph of her arriving at Hanworth Air Park in Middlesex, printed on the front page of the Daily Sketch on 23 May 1932 during the aviation hero’s publicity circuit through England.

Walter Richard Sickert, 'Miss Earhart's Arrival' 1932 (The Camden Town Group in Context)

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