Walter Sickert: Series One

Walter Sickert

Walter Sickert by Tom Titt

WALTER SICKERT contributed regularly to The New Age between 1910 and 1914. The first two series of drawings that The New Age included during this period were comprised solely of his work.

Scenes from private life in modern London are Sickert's subject matter here - domestic labor, intimate conversations between men and women, and the interior of the bedroom. But he presents the city's more public face as well - particularly in the architectural details of the music hall, a site of popular entertainment that was among the artist's favorite subjects. Sickert emphasized in his critical writings that line, rather than color, was the essential element in representing the "real.'' The rapidity with which a sketch could be completed allowed drawing to work as a "dynamometer" capturing the fleeting and momentary sensation of everyday experience as filtered through the artist's sensorium.

In Sickert's version of the modern, the sketch works almost like a photograph, arresting its subjects mid-gesture, and infusing what his critics considered banal or even debased subject matter with the lasting permanence of art.

The New Bedford


Walter Sickert, The New Bedford
The New Age 9.9, June 29, 1911


"Among the many kinds of artists, it may be that there are some who are hybrid. Some, that is to say, bore deeper and deeper into the stuff of their own art; others are always making raids into the lands of others. Sickert, it may be, is among the hybrids, the raiders. . . . But . . . he is probably the best painter now living in England." (Virginia Woolf, writing in 1933, "Walter Sickert" in The Captain's Death Bed and Other Essays, 201-202)



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A Pail of Slops


Walter Sickert, A Pail of Slops
The New Age 9.11, July 13, 1911


"When Degas told Ingres that he intended to be a painter, the master, after saying, C’est grave : c’est très grave,” added “ Faites  des lignes. Faites beaucoup de lignes.” And for half a century the living master has made lines, many lines, to what effect we all gratefully know. While the snobs of the brush labour to render the most expensive women and the richest fabrics cheap, the master-draughtsman shows us the wealth of beauty and consolation there is in perceiving and following out the form of anything.
“Anything!” This is the subject matter of modern art. There is the quarry, inexhaustible for ever, from which the draughtsmen and painters of the future will draw the endless line of masterpieces still to come."

–Walter Sickert, The New Age, June 16, 1910.



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London Benedetta


Walter Sickert, London Benedetta
The New Age 9.13, July 27, 1911


"Where are our street artists? When shall we stop importing foreigners to paint the mysterious beauties of neglected London?"


– Walter Sickert, The New Age, November 18, 1909



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The Proposal


Walter Sickert, The Proposal
The New Age 10.11, January 11, 1912



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Amantium Irae


Walter Sickert, Amantium Irae
The New Age 10.19, March 7, 1912


The Impressionists have killed many things, among others the exhibition picture and the exhibition picture system. The directness of their method and the clearness of their thought enabled them to say what they had to say on a small surface. The canvases they produced were such as are suitable to the rooms we live in, and to the growing mass of customers of moderate means. They introduced the group system into exhibition rooms, showing that one picture by an artist, though a detachable unit, also forms a link in a chain of thought and intention that runs through his whole oeuvre. By their burning enthusiasm and steady purpose they succeeded, led by Durand-Ruel, the Napoleon of dealers, in creating a circle of convinced and understanding patrons. They were willing to work for bread and water and their materials for many years. Masterpieces changed hands for £2, for £4. As to £12, ‘‘ça c’est deja un prix.” In that direction lies the salvation of English painting. A generation is arising here that has learnt its lesson from the Impressionists. They want little patrons for little portraits, little still-lifes and little landscapes. They will no longer consent to prepare expensive exhibition-posters, to “submit” them, or to pass the best nights of their youth awake with the hope of some day, by the favour of an “expert" or a group of “experts,” hanging in Mr. Tate’s collection by the side of Millais’s “Speak, speak.”

– Walter Sickert, The New Age, June 1910



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An Argument


Walter Sickert, An Argument
The New Age 10.26, April 25, 1912



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Walter Sickert: Series One