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So South Kensington

Julian Bell: Walter Sickert, 20 September 2001

The Complete Writings on Art 
by Walter Sickert, edited by Anna Gruetzner Robins.
Oxford, 699 pp., £90, September 2000, 0 19 817225 7
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... lunching with some friends in one of the most beautiful houses in a Bloomsbury square, and …’ Walter Sickert came to art journalism with his instincts intact from the stage, on which he had passed his youth. Lose the thread of your argument by all means, but never lose your audience. A little bluster and buffoonery will stop them ...

At the Queen’s Gallery

Inigo Thomas: David Hockney , 2 March 2017

... of its subject; it’s of the interior of Chantrey’s studio. Mustard, the dog given to him by Walter Scott, lies on a table covered with a red cloth, and leans against Chantrey’s bust of Scott. Two dead woodcock lie nearby, upside down in the foreground, as if they had just fallen from the sky – Chantrey once killed two of those birds with a single ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Peter Campbell: Wyndham Lewis, 11 September 2008

... by strict criteria, great portraits. The publicity for the exhibition makes much of the telegram Walter Sickert sent Lewis in 1932. The pencil portrait of Rebecca West, Sickert said, proved Lewis to be ‘the greatest portraitist of this or any other time’. Sickert would probably ...

At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Fakes, 22 July 2010

... of a Man (Victor Considérant?), supposedly by Delacroix, was given to the Tate Gallery in 1922 by Walter Sickert. The picture had a provenance of sorts – there is a record of it being exhibited at the Eldar Gallery in 1920 – but when it was transferred to the National Gallery in 1956 the curator Martin Davies questioned the attribution and the ...

At the Fitzwilliam

Eleanor Birne: Artists’ Mannequins, 8 January 2015

... live models, many of them were also compelling and strange. A primitive lay figure once owned by Walter Sickert is stretched out on a sheet in a large cardboard coffin; it’s as though we’d stumbled on the Tin Man’s corpse. Made with enormous wooden joints and ball sockets pinned with metal bolts, it’s a ghoulish-looking thing. ...

Feast of Darks

Christine Stansell: Whistler, 23 October 2003

Whistler, Women and Fashion 
by Margaret MacDonald and Susan Grace Galassi et al.
Yale, 243 pp., £35, May 2003, 0 300 09906 1
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Whistler and His Mother: An Unexpected Relationship 
by Sarah Walden.
Gibson Square, 242 pp., £15.99, July 2003, 1 903933 28 5
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... his art.’ Degas remarked that ‘it must be very tiring to keep up the role of the butterfly.’ Walter Sickert, who worked for years as his studio assistant, gave him credit for having survived at all in England at the high tide of academicism, but also thought that London had ruined him. Too much time playing the outré celebrity had extinguished ...

Like Steam Escaping

P.N. Furbank: Denton Welch, 17 October 2002

Denton Welch: Writer and Artist 
by James Methuen-Campbell.
Tartarus, 268 pp., £30, March 2002, 1 872621 60 0
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... is how proper it is to regard Welch’s fiction, or even, say, his brilliant and teasing sketch of Walter Sickert (‘Sickert at St Peter’s’), as records of fact. The posthumously published Fragments of a Life Story should be a warning to us. It is an unforgettable piece of writing. Being ‘overcome with the horror ...

Who was he?

Charles Nicholl: Joe the Ripper, 7 February 2008

The Fox and the Flies: The World of Joseph Silver, Racketeer and Psychopath 
by Charles van Onselen.
Cape, 672 pp., £20, April 2007, 978 0 224 07929 7
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... Maybrick, supposed author of the manuscript known as the Ripper’s ‘Diary’; and the artist Walter Sickert. Sickert’s candidacy has been energetically championed by the thriller-writer Patricia Cornwell, though she did not originate the theory. Sickert had a louche interest ...

Even Uglier

Terry Eagleton: Music Hall, 20 December 2012

My Old Man: A Personal History of Music Hall 
by John Major.
Harper, 363 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 0 00 745013 8
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... out as an impoverished 11-year-old impersonator of men, she became the wife of the Tory MP Sir Walter de Frece, hobnobbed with high society, amassed a huge fortune and retired to Monte Carlo. Kitty Grant, the music-hall and real-life partner of Major’s father, was not so lucky: she was struck on stage by a falling steel girder and sustained fatal brain ...

Get off your knees

Ferdinand Mount: An Atheist in the House, 30 June 2011

Dare to Stand Alone: The Story of Charles Bradlaugh, Atheist and Republican 
by Bryan Niblett.
Kramedart, 391 pp., £19.99, January 2011, 978 0 9564743 0 8
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... was also present, to bear witness to his loathing of ‘Christian tomfoolery’. So was Walter Sickert, who painted the enormous portrait of Bradlaugh that now hangs in Manchester Art Gallery. To the last, Bradlaugh remained a pioneer of customs we now take for granted, his daughter Hypatia arranging for him to be buried in one of the London ...

‘If I Could Only Draw Like That’

P.N. Furbank, 24 November 1994

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies 
by James McNeill Whistler.
Heinemann, 338 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 434 20166 9
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James McNeill Whistler: Beyond the Myth 
by Ronald Anderson and Anne Koval.
Murray, 544 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 7195 5027 0
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... for modern art in Victorian Britain; and as for his direct influence, as one observes it in Sickert, Wilson Steer, Gwen John and Victor Pasmore, it is hard not to think of it as beneficent and inspiring. People sometimes rebuke Whistler, as they rebuke Pound, for being noisy and obstreperous, but the polemics – the Ruskin trial, and the ‘Ten ...

Apoplectic Gristle

David Trotter: Wyndham Lewis, 25 January 2001

Some Sort of Genius: A Life of Wyndham Lewis 
by Paul O'Keeffe.
Cape, 697 pp., £25, October 2001, 0 224 03102 3
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Wyndham Lewis: Painter and Writer 
by Paul Edwards.
Yale, 583 pp., £40, August 2000, 0 300 08209 6
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... the approval of the scholar and critic T. Sturge Moore. The painters with whom he consorted – Walter Sickert, William Rothenstein, Augustus John – chose to regard him as a poet. ‘The Fine Arts they imagined were already in good hands,’ he recalled in Rude Assignment (1950), his second volume of autobiography, ‘namely their own.’ But it was ...

At the Ashmolean

Peter Campbell: Lucien and Camille Pissarro, 3 February 2011

... first attempts at book-making were for children. Had he become a professional illustrator such as Walter Crane or Kate Greenaway penury would have been avoided. But though he admired Charles Keene’s observation of types and was encouraged and helped by Ricketts and Shannon there was too much of his father’s son in him, and not enough of the English ...

Between centuries

Frank Kermode, 11 January 1990

In the Nineties 
by John Stokes.
Harvester, 199 pp., £17.50, September 1989, 0 7450 0604 3
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Olivia Shakespear and W.B. Yeats 
by John Harwood.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £35, January 1990, 0 333 42518 9
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Letters to the New Island 
by W.B. Yeats, edited by George Bornstein and Hugh Witemeyer.
Macmillan, 200 pp., £45, November 1989, 0 333 43878 7
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The Letters of Ezra Pound to Margaret Anderson: The ‘Little Review’ Correspondence 
edited by Thomas Scott, Melvin Friedman and Jackson Bryer.
Faber, 368 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 571 14099 8
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Ezra Pound and Margaret Cravens: A Tragic Friendship, 1910-1912 
edited by Omar Pound and Robert Spoo.
Duke, 181 pp., £20.75, January 1989, 0 8223 0862 2
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Postcards from the End of the World: An Investigation into the Mind of Fin-de-Siècle Vienna 
by Larry Wolff.
Collins, 275 pp., £15, January 1990, 0 00 215171 5
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Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age 
by Modris Eksteins.
Bantam, 396 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 593 01862 1
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Esprit de Corps: The Art of the Parisian Avant-Garde and the First World War, 1916-1925 
by Kenneth Silver.
Thames and Hudson, 506 pp., £32, October 1989, 0 500 23567 8
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... closed, but not for long. It was inextricably mingled with the web of metropolitan culture, with Sickert and Symons, Yeats, Walkley and even Shaw; also with sex and drink. The peculiar character of music-hall entertainment – a mixture of singing, dancing, stand-up comics, acrobats – derived, it seems, from an Act of 1843, which decreed that licensees ...

Museums of Melancholy

Iain Sinclair: Silence on the Euston Road, 18 August 2005

... plinths in a psychosexual romance of heavy cloaks, gas masks, boots and belts. I think of Walter Owen’s strange First World War fantasy, The Cross of Carl (1931), in which underground trains shunt still conscious corpses from the trenches to industrial units, where they will be rendered into meat. Silver rails out of the capital double as telegraph ...

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