The subject of music halls held a deep fascination for Sickert, and none was more prominent in his oeuvre than the Bedford Music Hall in Camden, which he began painting extensively in the 1880s and 90s (Old Bedford), and then later after its refurbishment in the early years of the twentieth-century (New Bedford). Writing to his great friend and patron Mrs Hugh Hammersley in December 1907, Sickert commented on his obsession with the theatre. 'I am returned to my old love the Bedford and I hope to illustrate the new building as I have already done the old one. My first drawing of the gallery there is dated 1886. Twenty years of (intermittent) fidelity is a record!' (W. Baron, Sickert: Paintings and Drawings, New Haven and London, 2006, p. 327. Works from the two series of the Bedford works exist in the Tate and also prominently in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool which hold many of Sickert's lucid preparatory sketches.
Thelma Cazalet-Keir (1899-1989) is best known as one of Britain’s first female Members of Parliament: she entered local politics in 1924 and was the MP for Islington East from October 1931 to July 1945. She was the second female MP to achieve the position of a Cabinet Minister during this period. As with two other early female MPs, Nancy Astor and Margaret Whittingham, Thelma Cazalet-Keir remained a Christian Scientist throughout her life. She was a member of the Arts Council as well as a Governor of the BBC for five years. As a champion of women’s rights, she was a keen supporter of the Fawcett Society, becoming President in 1964. For other lots offered from her eminent collection of Modern British works, please see Christie's, London, 18 June 2019, lots 101 and 177.
We are very grateful to Dr Wendy Baron for her assistance in cataloguing this work.