In her monograph on Sickert, Wendy Baron explains the subject of the present work and other works of this subject that Sickert created in 1928, 'John Tiller, a successful Lancashire businessman, with his wife Jeannie, founded the Tiller School in Manchester towards the end of the nineteenth century with the idea of drilling a stage chorus-line into performing with the discipline of a corps de ballet. The Tiller schools quickly gained a reputation. Schools opened in London and abroad. In 1912, the 'Palace Girls' who performed at the first Royal Command Variety Performance had been trained by Tiller. Shone (1992) describes how in the 1920s troupes became affiliated to different cinemas where they would perform in the intervals between film showings. The Plaza Tiller Girls were attached to the Plaza Cinema near Piccadilly Circus. Each troupe wore distinctive colours. The icy blue of the Plaza Tiller troupe's domino-check costumes recalls the colour used in the preparations of many of Sickert's stage paintings throughout the 1920s' (see W. Baron, Sickert Paintings and Drawings, New Haven and London, 2006, p. 544).
In contrast to the other oil of this subject from 1928 (private collection), the present work shows 'The top of the double bass and the conductor's head and raised arm are silhouetted in the immediate foreground of this slightly smaller painting' (loc. cit.).
The two paintings, the two related drawings and the etching (entitled Cheerio published in 1929 [Bromberg 222]) were all derived from publicity photographs. In the late 1930s, Sickert painted the Plaza Tiller Girls once again in a picture called High Stepper [Baron 766] which is in the collection of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (ibid.).