Lot 124
  • 124

Walter Richard Sickert, A.R.A.

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
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  • Walter Richard Sickert, A.R.A.
  • The Façade of St Jacques
  • signed
  • pencil and oil on canvas
  • 61 by 51cm.; 24 by 20in.
  • Executed circa 1902-3.


Acquired by the family of the present owners in the late 1940s, and thence by descent



Original canvas. There are three old pinholes visible along the upper half of the right hand edge. The work appears in excellent overall condition. Ultraviolet light reveals a few scattered traces of minor fluorescence and probable retouching to areas surrounding the extreme edge, most probably in line with a previous frame abrasion. These have all been very sensitively executed. Housed in an ornate gilt frame. Please contact the department on +44 (0) 207 293 6424 if you have any questions regarding the present work.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

We are grateful to Wendy Baron for her kind assistance in the cataloguing of the present work.

The Façade of St. Jacques is one of Sickert’s most frequently painted subjects in Dieppe, a town that always occupied a special place in the artist’s life. During his early years it was a fashionable coastal spa where his parents used to take him for childhood holidays; later Sickert made Dieppe the final stop of his honeymoon tour with his first wife, Ellen Cobden; and in 1899 he chose Dieppe as a hideaway after his bitter divorce. Artistically it also became a retreat from the exhausting schedule of portrait commissions that he undertook in London. As Sickert wrote in 1899 from Dieppe, contemplating how his works would be remembered:  ’I see my line. Not portraits. Picturesque work’.

In the views of Dieppe, Sickert re-defines the concept of the picturesque, a word formerly associated with romantic landscapes and pastoral scenes or Venetian vistas. Fascinated by the stone architecture of the medieval town, Sickert found the picturesque in the urban environment, explored the intimacy of narrow perspectives opening from street corners and the play of shadows on its crumbling walls.

It is no wonder that the main church of Dieppe, the 13th Century St. Jacques captured Sickert’s eye on more than one occasion. The front and south façades, seen directly or with a perspective to and from Rue Pecquet, as well as more intricate elements of its architecture, offered the perfect material for the study of light, the church became a favourite subject, similar to that of Rouen cathedral in Monet’s oeuvre.

The assured, dramatic brushstrokes of the present work, applied over a freely drawn framework, represent a technique which he had newly mastered in Dieppe and sought to pass on to Mrs Humphrey in a letter of 1900 or 1901: ‘Don’t try and make too certain in painting. Go loosely and lightly and quickly, and don’t tell any of the painters what I tell you. [ …] Sketch loosely with very thin black lines and turpentine and paint in shadows the transparent darks that they are all first then lights. Try to finish in one sitting if you can. Get a strong concentrated light like a Hals or Reynolds or Raeburn.’ Sickert returned to paint St. Jacques in 1907-1909, but the later paintings mark a definite stylistic departure from the work of this period.