32.7 x 40.2 cm
Jacques-Emile Blanche Private Collection, UK
Mrs E J De Pass
Private Collection, UK
London, Roland Browse and Delbanco, Sickert, 1860–1942, March–April 1960, cat no.8
Eastbourne, Towner Art Gallery, Sickert in Dieppe, 31 May– 6 July 1975, cat no.43
Guildford, Guildford House, 12 July–2 August 1975
Wendy Baron, Sickert, Phaidon, London, 1973, pp99, 101, cat no.284, fig 201 illus b/w
Wendy Baron, Sickert, Paintings and Drawings, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2006, pp66, 257, cat no.302, illus colour p345
DescriptionIn the winter of 1898 Sickert went to Dieppe and did not return to live in London until 1905. Dieppe had been important to Sickert’s family. His mother had been brought up in the suburb of Neuville and his father, a painter, had experienced very productive periods of work there. By 1898 French and English artists had gathered in Dieppe and it was here that Sickert renewed his friendship with Degas. This friendship proved fundamental to Sickert’s development of a stronger, more considered sense of pattern in his work and it was in Dieppe
that Sickert began to assert his stylistic independence from his teacher Whistler.
Almost all of the paintings Sickert made in Dieppe are topographical in nature. Several of the well-known landmarks of the town feature over and over again in the paintings. One of most frequent subjects was the Church of St. Jacques, as seen here. His continuous focus on the architectural make-up of the town led his friend, the painter and writer Jacques-Emile Blanche, to name him the ‘Canaletto of Dieppe’ stating:
‘No other artist has so perfectly felt and expressed the character
of the town.’ 1
Towards the end of 1905, Sickert returned to live in London. This charming work was painted while Sickert summered there the following year and illustrates his fresh-eyed enthusiasm for the subject after some time away. The wonderfully light and varied palette presents a vivacity of colour rare in Sickert’s oeuvre. He may have been influenced by the company of the younger artist Spencer Gore who worked with him at his Neuville studio in 1904 and again in 1906. The bright tonality and loose brushstrokes of this painting suggest an exchange between the two artists and prompt consideration of Sickert as an ‘English Impressionist’.
Sickert’s interest in recording the same location at different times of day, and in different lights, was certainly shared with the Impressionists. The broken brushstrokes and fractured tonal values have the same sense of immediacy as an Impressionist painting. However, this apparent spontaneity belies the controlled
nature of its creation. Sickert generally remained in his studio when completing a painting, preferring to work from secondhand material rather than en plein air, as one might expect from a bonafide Impressionist.
1 Wendy Baron, introduction to Sickert in Dieppe exhibition catalogue, Towner Art Gallery,