SICKERT Walter Richard
( 1960-1942). English painter; born in Munich of an English mother and a Danish father. His father, O. A. Sickert ( 1828-1885), who had settled in England in 1868, and his grandfather, Johannes Sickert ( 1803-1864), were also painters. He studied at the Slade School in London with Alphonse Lc Gros and then became a pupil of Whistler. Later he fell under the influence of Degas and became a close friend of his. In 1911 he helped found the Camden Town Club to promote an independent art. With Steer, Sickert was the most influential of the English Impressionists. His family originally dissuaded him from becoming a painter, so Sickert spent several years in the theatre -- a milieu with which he remained in contact all his life. In 1883 he visited Paris, sent by his teacher, Whistler, to deliver to the Salon the famous The Artist's Mother, now in the Louvre. About 1900, Sickert settled in France, where he lived for five years. He worked often at Dieppe, drawn there by his admiration for Degas, whom he considered the greatest painter of his day.
A bit of a misanthrope, he divided humanity into two categories: patients and nurses. He enjoyed depicting incidents, sometimes sordid, of the everyday life of poor districts. He grew critical of Whistler's surface brilliance and facility and began to work in a slow, thoughtful manner, using a smooth, rich-toned palette. From Whistler he retained sombre shadings and a sober, restrained style. Prudent and cautious, he never let himself be carried away by what he considered the too facile charm of the light palette of the French Impressionists. Sickert owed a good bit of his popularity to his extraordinary personal dynamism -- much as Whistler and Degas did theirs -- but he was the undisputed master of that hollow period in English painting between the death of Turner in 1851 and the growth of the new contemporary school. Ennui (c. 1913), in the Tate Gallery, and Portrait of Victor Lecour ( 1924), in the Manchester City Art Gallery, are among his finest work.
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