The present work depicts the café under the arcades facing the harbour of Dieppe which Sickert was to paint in several versions in 1914. Sickert made another pen and ink, watercolour and gouache drawing of these arcades which is very close in handling and colour to the present work (see W. Baron, Sickert Paintings and Drawings, New Haven and London, 2006, p. 246, no. 136), which is undated but also dedicated to a friend: Suzette Lemaire.
Mrs Forster (she is never given a forename when referred to, nor is her husband ever mentioned) was painted by Whistler circa 1881-82 as an arrangement in black. She was a friend of the painter Florence Pash who was an intimate friend of Sickert. Florence Pash recorded that Mrs Forster was 'a very beautiful woman and Sickert knew her well, having met her while Whistler was painting her portrait. She was very interested in painting and loved to gather artists around her'. She lived in London but spent long periods in Dieppe. She had two daughters and a son, Francis. While Francis was at Eton he took lessons from Florence Pash; in 1890 he enrolled as a pupil at Sickert's Glebe Place, Chelsea studio. He was perhaps Sickert's first ever pupil. He exhibited at the New English Art Club throughout the 1890s. A picture by Francis Forster was reproduced in the second volume of The Yellow Book in 1894. Sickert was later to acknowledge Francis Forster's gift to him of a canvas on which he painted one of his versions of the Gallery of the Old Bedford, almost certainly the painting now in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.
Sir Terence Rattigan, who previously owned this lot, was a British playwright, most well-known for The Winslow Boy (1946), The Browning Version (1948) and The Deep Blue Sea (1952).
We are very grateful to Dr Wendy Baron for preparing this catalogue entry.