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    Sale 12223

    Modern British & Irish Art Evening Sale

    20 June 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 40

    Walter Richard Sickert, A.R.A. (1860-1942)

    The Gallery at the Old Mogul

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Walter Richard Sickert, A.R.A. (1860-1942)
    The Gallery at the Old Mogul
    signed 'Sickert' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    25 x 30 in. (63.5 x 67 cm.)
    Painted in 1906.


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    Walter Sickert's The Gallery at the Old Mogul is thought to be one of the earliest paintings in the world of a cinematic performance. Early press descriptions prove that the original title of the picture was Cinematograph and shows a film screening of a Western (See R. Upstone, exhibition catalogue, Modern Painters, The Camden Town School, London, Tate, 2008, p. 74). Before the existence of purpose built cinemas, films had been shown in music halls as part of the evening's entertainment from 1896. Amongst the earliest Westerns produced were shorts Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill in 1894. A small number of others were released between 1900 and 1905 including Edwin S. Porter's milestone The Great Train Robbery of 1903.

    ‘The Old Mogul’ was the original name for the Middlesex Music Hall in Drury Lane, remodeled and renamed in the 1870s, and variously known as 'the Mogul Tavern', ‘the Old Mo’, and 'the Old Middlesex’. The present work was painted soon after Sickert’s return to London from Dieppe in 1906, at a time when Sickert was rediscovering his fascination for music-hall subjects; ‘I have started many beautiful music-hall pictures. I go to the Mogul Tavern every night’. (Sickert, writing to Jacques-Émile Blanche, 1906, quoted in W. Baron, Sickert Paintings and Drawings, New Haven and London, 2006, p. 60). Related works of the same subject include Noctes Ambrosianae painted in the same year and four related drawings in the Walker Art Gallery Liverpool and Aberdeen Art Gallery. Sickert’s renewed interest in music halls further inspired him over the autumn of 1906 to paint and draw works in Paris at ‘L’Eldorado’, and ‘The Theatre de Montmartre’. Like The Gallery at the Old Mogul which places the audience on a diagonal recession, these works depart from earlier music hall works in their experimentation with our viewpoint of the audience.

    Sickert’s inspiration for depicting new forms of entertainment such as cinematic performances, stemmed partly from French artists, including Degas’ depictions of Parisian Café Concerts and theatres. Sickert, however, was one of the first artists to examine scenes of popular entertainment in a British art context outside of the graphic tradition of artists such as Charles Keene - whom Sickert greatly admired. Unlike Degas however, the focus is less on the performance - or in this case screening - and more on the relationship of the audience to the show. This method was developed in Sickert’s earliest entertainment works such as the Old Bedford Gallery pictures of the 1890s, which like the present work choose to focus on the audience from behind, inviting the viewer to feel at once a part of the spectacle and yet distant from the subjects. This tool was partly borrowed by Sickert from French Impressionist works such as Manet’s Un bar aux Folies Bergère, where the viewer is made to feel like they are ordering a drink at a bar but is unable to witness the full transaction. Sickert’s ability to create this ambiguity, allows the onlooker to invent narratives for the scene, and is one of the reasons he remarked to Virginia Woolf; ‘I have always been a literary painter’ (V. Woolf, Walter Sickert: A Conversation, London, 1934, p. 26). Whilst Sickert’s work may not have the sentiment or caricature of Charles Dickens’ (as loosely suggested by Woolf in 1934), it often manages to give the impression that you are viewing a moment in time, a snapshot which leaves one guessing as to what has just happened or what will happen next.

    It is of no surprise therefore, that in later years Sickert began increasingly to adapt compositions directly from photographs. Yet unlike a photograph, The Gallery at the Old Mogul seems full of movement. Sickert maintains the ability not to simply depict but to create dramatic atmosphere through low tones and a liquid handling of paint reminiscent of Whistler and indeed of a cinematic performance. The present work was produced at a time when Sickert was working alongside artists such as Spencer Gore and Albert Rutherston on similar themes shortly before the evolution of the Fitzroy Street and later Camden Town groups. This work successfully predicted not only the importance of film on everyday cultural life but on many subsequent art movements such as the Cubist works of Braque and Picasso between 1907-14.

    The present work was previously owned by the actor Sir Michael Redgrave and sold to the distinguished collector Sir Anthony Lousada and his wife Patricia McBride, dancer with Balanchine's New York City Ballet. Lousada's success as a solicitor enabled him to become a substantial supporter of the arts and artists, advising amongst others the Royal College of Art, The Arts Council and the Tate Gallery.

    Provenance

    Jacques-Émile Blanche.
    Dr A.S. Cobbledick.
    with Roland Browse and Delbanco, London, 1945, where purchased by Sir Michael Redgrave.
    with Roland Browse and Delbanco, London, 1960, where purchased by Sir Anthony Lousada.
    His sale; Christie's, London, 6 December 1963, lot 58, where purchased by Piccadilly Gallery, London.
    Purchased from Motley Books, London in March 1969, and by descent.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM A PROMINENT FILM INDUSTRY COLLECTION


    Literature

    L. Browse, Sickert, London, 1960, p. 19, pl. 13, dated circa 1899.
    W. Baron, Sickert, London, 1973, pp. 91, 96, 97, 343, no. 240.
    W. Baron and R. Shone (eds.), exhibition catalogue, Sickert Paintings, London, Royal Academy, 1992, p. 178, fig. 135.
    Exhibition catalogue, Walter Sickert Drawing is the Thing, Manchester, Whitworth Art Gallery, 2004, pp. 30, 40, no. 1.07, illustrated.
    W. Baron, Sickert Paintings and Drawings, New Haven and London, 2006, pp. 61, 332, no. 283, illustrated.
    Exhibition catalogue, Modern Painters: The Camden Town School, London, Tate Britain, 2008, p. 74, no. 13, illustrated.


    Exhibited

    Paris, Bernheim-Jeune, Exposition Sickert, January 1907, no. 47.
    Paris, Bernheim-Jeune and Hôtel Drouot, Vente de 84 oeuvres de Walter Sickert, June 1909, no. 58.
    London, Royal Society of British Artists, The New English Art Club, winter 1912, no. 197 as ‘Cinematograph’.
    Manchester, City Art Gallery, Autumn Exhibition, September 1913 - January 1914, no. 168, as ‘The Cinematograph Show’.
    London, Thomas Agnew and Sons, Retrospective Exhibition of Pictures by W.R. Sickert, November - December 1933, no. 23.
    Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, The New English Art Club, June - July 1939, no. 92: this exhibition travelled to Calgary, Exhibition and Stampede, July 1939; Regina, Agricultural And Industrial Exhibition, July - August 1939; Edmonton, Museum of Fine Arts, August - October 1939; Winnipeg, Art Gallery, December 1939 - January 1940; London, Ontario, Public Library, December 1940 - January 1941; Montreal, Art Association, December 1941 - January 1942; Toronto, Laing Art Galleries, March 1942.
    Port Sunlight, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Art and the Theatre, July - September 1949, no. 199.
    London, Roland Browse and Delbanco, Sickert Forty of his Finest Paintings, June - August 1951, no. 20.
    Edinburgh, Scottish Committee of the Arts Council, Royal Scottish Academy, An Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings by Walter Sickert, January 1953, no. 43.
    Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery, Sickert an Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Prints, September - October 1957, no. 9.
    London, Roland Browse and Delbanco, Sickert, March - April 1960, no. 14.
    London, Arts Council of Great Britain, Tate, Sickert, Paintings and Drawings, May - June 1960, no. 76: this exhibition travelled to Southampton, Art Gallery, July; Bradfield, City Art Gallery, July - August.
    London, Anthony d’Offay Gallery, Paintings of London by Members of the Camden Town Group, October - December 1979, no. 31.
    London, Browse and Darby, Sickert with an Accent on the Theatre, November - December 1992, no. 12.
    Manchester, Whitworth Art Gallery, Walter Sickert Drawing is the Thing, October - December 2004, no. 1.07: this exhibition travelled to Southampton, Art Gallery, January - March 2005; Belfast, Ulster Museum, April - June 2005.
    London, Tate, Modern Painters: The Camden Town Group, February - May 2008, no. 13.