Browse Lots

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Walter Richard Sickert, A.R.A. (1860-1942)
Walter Richard Sickert, A.R.A. (1860-1942)

Little Rachel

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

Little Rachel
oil on canvas
24 x 12 in. (61 x 30.5 cm.)
Painted in 1907.
with Redfern Gallery, London, where purchased by Mr Samuel Carr, December 1940, and by descent.
L. Browse, Sickert, London, 1943, p. 50.
W. Baron, Sickert, London, 1973, p. 347, no. 263.3, incorrectly titled as 'The Frame-Maker's Daughter'.
W. Baron, exhibition catalogue, Camden Town Recalled, London, Fine Art Society, 1976, p. 47, no. 133.
W. Baron, Sickert, London and New Haven, 2006, p. 362, no. 339, illustrated.
London, Redfern Gallery, Richard Sickert, February - March 1940, no. 15.
London, Fine Art Society, Camden Town Recalled, October - November 1976, no. 133: this exhibition travelled to Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery, November - December 1976.

Brought to you by

Albany Bell
Albany Bell

Lot Essay

When in May 1907 Sickert rented the first floor rooms above his lodgings at 6 Mornington Crescent, Camden Town as a studio, he introduced one of the most creative periods of his life. He was so absorbed by the ‘dozen or so interiors’ which he called ‘a set of Studies of illumination’ that he stayed on in London until late August, instead of leaving as usual in July for his annual summer visit to Dieppe. The interiors were ‘A little Jewish girl of 13 or so with red hair & a nude alternate days’. The little Jewish girl is identified in the archives of Thomas Agnew as Miss Siderman who died, aged 70, in 1963. The daughter of a grocer (possibly Sickert’s grocer), she married Harry Goodman in August 1915. She was the model for five oil paintings, all but the present work in public art galleries (Tate, London; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; City Museum and Art Gallery, Plymouth; and Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane). Among the many related drawings, one (British Council Collection) is inscribed ‘le petit Jesus’, Sickert’s acknowledgment of the gentle semitic features and wavy hair of his young model.

The present three-quarter length portrait is one of the most beautiful and sensitive of Sickert’s career as a figure painter. It flickers with an opulent impasto; the surface is a mosaic of touches of paint in rich, lively and varied colours; the tonality is – for Sickert - relatively light. Whereas two of the 'Little Rachel' paintings (Tate and Fitzwilliam) place Rachel in front of the window through which the light filters obliquely so that she is seen contre-jour, in the present painting there is no setting to speak of and the source of light is outside the picture. It bathes her figure to highlight the folds of her pin-tucked white blouse, to capture the graceful outline of her features, to catch the vivid rusty red of her hair. The contrast between the 'Little Rachel' series and the nudes Sickert painted on alternate days must have been exhilarating. The preoccupation with contre-jour light effects on the figure is the same, the Mornington Crescent setting is the same, but in all but two of the paintings of the nude, the mood is totally different. The nudes stare brazenly out of the picture; Rachel never looks directly at the artist or the spectator. Sickert portrays her as solemn, demure and withdrawn into her own world, a lovely and innocent vehicle for painting.

We are very grateful to Dr Wendy Baron for preparing this catalogue entry.

Please see lots 165-169 for further works from this collection.

More from Modern British & Irish Art Day Sale

View All
View All