Lot 15
  • 15

Walter Richard Sickert, A.R.A

50,000 - 80,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Walter Richard Sickert, A.R.A
  • the club dance
  • signed
  • oil on canvas
  • 51 by 40.5cm.; 20 by 16in.


Bernard Falk
His sale, Christie's, London, 18th November 1955, lot 58
Adams Gallery, London, whence acquired by J.B. Priestley, circa 1958, and thence by descent to the present owner


London, Eldar Gallery, Walter Sickert, January-February 1919, no.9, illustrated.


J.B.Priestley, Particular Pleasures, Heinemann, London 1975, p.39, illustrated p.40;
Wendy Baron, Sickert: Paintings and Drawings, Yale University Press, London and New Haven, 2006, no.461.2, p.435.

Catalogue Note

'...I have lived with it for nearly twenty years and still find delight in its browns and pinks and those inspired flashes of green...'
(J.B. Priestley, op.cit., p.39)

Painted circa 1916, The Club Dance captures the lively atmosphere of one of the popular street cafés that Sickert frequented throughout his life. The vibrant handling, informal arrangement and focus on the local characters of the café encapsulate Baudelaire's desire for contemporary artists to focus on everyday 'modern life' and also shows a clear affinity with the work of Edgar Degas. Sickert had first met the French artist in Paris in 1883 and was hugely inspired by the works he experienced at the older artist's studio. The bold yet impressionistic outline of the female figure on the left of the present work strongly alludes to the similarly dressed female protagonist of Degas' seminal L'Absinthe (1875-76, Coll. Musée D'Orsay, Paris) whilst the central focus on the cabaret performer conjures up the same light-hearted mood as Degas' Café Concert aux les Ambassadeurs (1876-77, Coll. Musée des Beaux Arts, Lyon) Indeed, J.B. Priestley, the owner of the present work from the late 1950s until his death in 1984, aptly surmised that Sickert's 'years in France, often playing pupil to Degas, taught him to be a serious artist' (Priestley, op.cit., p.39).

Although the exact setting of the present work is unknown, Wendy Baron has related The Club Dance to Café Belge (circa 1916-17Private Collection, see Baron, op.cit, no.461) which most likely depicts a Belgian run café in Fitzrovia, London popular with Belgian soldiers during the First World War. Priestley suggested that the composition was rooted 'either in London or Dieppe...And indeed the scene looks more French than English - both the man playing and his instrument, an accordion' (Priestley, op.cit, p.39). Regardless of exact location, The Club Dance captures the essence of the everyday café culture of the period and Sickert transports the viewer directly into the heart of the composition, seating them directly in front of the musician next to the female figure on the left.

To be sold together with a copy of J.B. Priestley's Particular Pleasures (Heinemann, London, 1975).

We are grateful to Dr Wendy Baron for her kind assistance with the cataloguing of this lot.