Walter Richard Sickert

Dates1860 - 1942

Son and grandson of painters, Walter Richard Sickert entered London's Slade School of Fine Art to train as a painter in 1881, after a short stage career. He later worked in James McNeill Whistler's studio, preparing Whistler's refined palette and learning about modulation of tones and the physicality of paint. In Paris in 1883, Sickert met his most influential teacher, Edgar Degas. Degas exposed Sickert to the tradition of drawing and taught him to achieve spontaneity using photography and how to retain the freshness of a sketch in finished paintings. From 1887 to 1889, the Post-Impressionist Sickert mostly depicted working-class music halls, earning his first criticisms for vulgar subject matter.

Returning to London in 1905 after seven years in Dieppe, France, and Venice, Sickert reworked his style, fattening his paint, lightening his palette, and enlarging his pictures. Firmly believing in the collective artistic experience, he co-founded artists' societies and attracted younger admirers, who congregated at his studio. After 1924 Sickert based his paintings on photographs. His vast impact on British art included teaching, writing, and making prints.

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