Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942)
Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942)

L' Eldorado

Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942)
L' Eldorado
oil on canvas
20½ x 24¼ in. (52 x 61.5 cm.)
Painted circa 1906.
Arthur Clifton of the Carfax Gallery, London; his widow, Mrs Madeline Clifton.
with Agnew’s, London, 1964.
with Roland, Browse & Delbanco, London, 1968.
J. C. King, his sale; Sotheby’s, London, 18 July 1973, lot 25.
with Agnew’s, London, 1974.
with David Jones’ Art Gallery, Sydney, 1980.
Robert Haines, his sale; Christie’s, London, 8 November, 1985, lot 142.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby’s, London, 2 May 1990, lot 45.
with Fine Art Society, London.
Private collection, USA.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby’s London, 18 June 1997, lot 61.
with Spink-Leger, London, where purchased by the present owner, April 1999.
F. Rutter, The Studio, Vol. 100, November 1930, p. 324, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Walter R. Sickert 1860-1942, New York, Hirschl & Adler, 1967, no. 13, as ‘Old Bedford’, illustrated.
W. Baron, Sickert, London, 1973, pp. 93-99, 342, no. 235.
Apollo, August 1974, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, British Modernist Art, 1905-1930, New York, Hirschl & Adler Galleries, 1987, no. 35, p. 42, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Twentieth Century British Art: From Sickert to Hirst, London, Spink-Leger, 1998, n.p., no. 1, illustrated, as ‘L’ Eldorado, Paris’.
W. Baron, Sickert Paintings and Drawings, New Haven and London, 2006, pp. 336-337, no. 291.1, illustrated.
possibly Paris, Bernheim-Jeune, 1907.
Glasgow, Institute of Fine Arts, Sickert, 1949, catalogue not traced.
London, Agnew’s, Walter Richard Sickert, Centenary Exhibition, 1960, no. 13, as ‘The Old Bedford’.
Johannesburg, Adler Fielding Galleries, Walter Richard Sickert 1860-1942, August 1965, no. O15.
New York, Hirschl & Adler, Walter R. Sickert 1860-1942, April - May 1967, no. 13, as ‘Theatre Interior- La Gaite Rochechouart’.
Sydney, David Jones’ Art Gallery, Walter Richard Sickert 1860-1942, May - June 1968, no. 21.
Sydney, David Jones’ Art Gallery, Walter Richard Sickert 1860-1942: Paintings and Drawings from Public and Private Collections in Australia, August 1980, no. 18.
New York, Hirschl & Adler Galleries, British Modernist Art, 1905-1930, November 1987 - January 1988, no. 35.
London, Spink-Leger, Twentieth Century British Art: From Sickert to Hirst, April 1998, no. 1.

Lot Essay

By the turn of the 20th Century, Walter Sickert had gained a reputation as a highly convincing modernist painter who could command the attention of a number of important collectors in both Paris and London. After a short career as an actor, he had trained under the American painter, J.M.W. Whistler, but soon rejected his master’s practice of painting alla prima after spending time at the studio of Edgar Degas in Paris in the autumn of 1885. This meeting proved pivotal for the artist and Sickert and his first wife, Ellen Cobden bought three works from Degas, including The Rehearsal of the Ballet on Stage, (1873-74, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, H.O. Havemeyer Collection). Sickert grew to hero-worship and emulate the great French painter, deciding to plan his studio pictures from sketches created on the spot, admiring the more experienced artist’s spontaneity and brio. After his separation from Ellen, Sickert lived in self-imposed exile in Dieppe, Venice and Paris between 1898 to 1905, during which their acquaintance grew into a friendship that would last until Degas’ death in 1917.

L’ Eldorado was painted over the autumn and winter of 1906, an extremely prolific period for Sickert. During this time he painted nudes extensively, as well as reviving his interest in the music halls of London, and painting theatres in Paris for the first time. In many of his London music hall works of the 1890s he depicted the popular performers of the day, such as Little Dot Hetherington, Minnie Cunningham and Miss Katie Lawrence, best known for her song ‘Daisy Bell’. Although members of the orchestra and profiles of the audience frequently appear in these works, it was later in the decade that the audience alone become the subject of these interiors, as personified in the present work. This newfound interest was echoed in a letter Sickert wrote to his friends and fellow artists William Rothenstein and Jacques-Émile Blanche in 1906, in which he spoke of depicting the boys in the audience at the Middlesex Music Hall in Drury Lane, known as ‘the old Mo’ or The Old Middlesex. He wrote to Rothenstein, ‘I want another fortnight here to finish 4 or 5 pictures as good as `Noctes Ambrosianae’, only red and blue places, instead of black ones. The Eldorado, the Gaîeté Rochechouart, the Théâtre de Montmartre’.

The Eldorado stood at 4 boulevard de Strasbourg and was one of the most popular café-theatres in Paris; it was subsequently demolished in 1932. Wendy Baron describes a version of the same composition (The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham) as `maybe one of the blue places’ mentioned to Rothenstein. In L’ Eldorado, Sickert captures the atmosphere of the theatre dimly lit by gas lights to wonderful effect. Utilising a series of smoky grey-blues that run throughout the painting, Sickert harmonises his composition, offsetting these tones with touches of grey, blue and violet picked out in the figures, along with the yellow ochres deployed for the lights and the isolated notes of rust red, which glint here and there.

The annotated catalogue of the Sickert sale at the Hôtel Drouot in June 1909 is inscribed `(Eldorado)’ after the printed title Spectateurs. It was bought by Emile Bernheim. The measurements are approximately those of both the Barber Institute painting and the present work (ibid., p.336). Travelling regularly between a London and Paris, Sickert was in a Paris again in a January 1907, to oversee his exhibition at Bernheim-Jeune in which the present work was probably included.

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