Woman’s Sphere (“Echo” after John Gilbert)

  • About the work
    This domestic scene presents a young woman seated to the left reading a newspaper, facing away from an older man dining on lobster at a white-clothed table. Absent figures are evoked with an empty chair in the foreground and the two portraits hanging on either side of a landscape painting on the wallpapered wall. Titled Woman’s Sphere (‘Echo’ after John Gilbert), this painting is part of Walter Sickert's 'Echoes' series based on black-and-white  illustrations in popular English magazines of the Victorian era. It particularly references the wood-engraved illustrations of Sir John Gilbert (1817–97), whom Sickert had known in his youth and whose graphic comments on contemporary social mores, at the vanguard of pictorial journalism, he admired.
  • About the artist
    Born in Munich, Walter Richard Sickert was a British artist of mixed Dutch and Danish parentage. He abandoned an acting career in 1881 to briefly enter the Slade School of Art in London, before apprenticing under James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) in 1882. During a visit to Paris in 1883, he was introduced to Edgar Degas who inspired Sickert's practice of using figure and location drawings made ‘on the spot’ to produce finished paintings back in the studio. During the 1890s he chiefly painted portraits in London and townscapes in Dieppe. From 1905 he lived in the Camden Town area and in 1911 established the Camden Town group of artists. In 1934 Sickert moved to Broadstairs in Kent with Thérèse Lessore, his third wife, and then again near Bath in 1938. He received few official honours in his lifetime but a major retrospective of his work was held before his death, with posthumous exhibitions at Tate Britain in 1960, and the Courtauld Gallery, London, in 2007–2008.
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  • Details
    Title
    Woman’s Sphere (“Echo” after John Gilbert)
    Date
    c.1931-1932
    Medium
    Oil on canvas
    Dimensions
    height: 70.50 cm, width: 64.00 cm
    Acquisition
    Purchased from Beaux Arts Gallery, February 1959
    Inscription
    bl: Sickert.
    Provenance
    Purchased from Beaux Arts Gallery 1959
    GAC number
    4876