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Walter Richard Sickert

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Walter Richard Sickert | England 1860 -1942 | Whistler's studio c.1915-17 | Oil on canvas | 91 x 71.5cm | Gift of Lady Murdoch in memory of Sir Keith Murdoch, KT, 1953 | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Walter Richard Sickert, 'Whistler's studio', c.1918

Walter Richard Sickert
England 1860-1942
Whistler's studio c.1918
Oil on canvas
91 x 71.5cm
Gift of Lady Murdoch in memory of Sir Keith Murdoch, KT, 1953
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Walter Richard Sickert

Whistler's studio c.1918

American-born James McNeill Whistler lived and worked in England and France and played a significant role in the development of new directions in British art. His studio in London attracted a number of young artists and followers, including Walter Sickert, who became a studio assistant to Whistler in 1882.

The following year Sickert met Edgar Degas while assisting the travel of Whistler's Portrait of the artist's mother 1871 to Paris, and the two remained friends until Degas's death in 1917. Degas's influence led to Sickert adopting a thicker, impastoed paint surface characteristic of much French Impressionist painting.

Whistler's studio was painted around 1918, eighteen years after Whistler and Sickert's friendship had ended bitterly. The relationship ended over a libel suit in which Sickert was one of the defendants and Whistler a witness for the prosecution.

Despite this, the painting still retains a sense of homage to the American. Sickert's precisely chosen palette of muted colours and a radiating composition are reminiscent of Whistler's atmospheric style in his 'Nocturne' series, however, the thick application of pigment reflects Sickert's acknowledgment of impressionist techniques.