Walker Art Gallery announces major Walter Richard Sickert retrospective
The Walker Art Gallery will present a major exhibition of artwork by Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942) from 18 September 2021 to 27 February 2022. Sickert: A Life in Art will be the largest retrospective of the artist’s work to have been held in the UK for more than 30 years.
The exhibition will showcase around 100 loaned paintings and 200 drawings. The Walker holds 349 of the artist’s drawings, which is the largest collection in the world. Most of these have never been displayed before. Together, they demonstrate the varied, yet vital, role that drawing played in Sickert’s artistic practice.
Sickert is one of Britain’s most important artists, with a career spanning six decades. Born in Munich, Germany, he moved to Britain as a child in 1868. As a young artist, he worked as an apprentice to the American painter James Abbot McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) who, along with the French impressionist painter Edward Degas (1834-1917), greatly influenced Sickert’s early work.
Charlotte Keenan McDonald, Lead Curator of Fine Art (British Art), at the Walker Art Gallery, said: “Walter Richard Sickert was a radical painter, who determined to capture society as he saw it – regardless of whether this ‘rawness’ offended his audiences.
“He repeatedly reinvented himself, pushing his art in new and unexpected directions. He sought to combine a technical interest in painting with his conviction that art should reflect the modern world. Visitors to the exhibition will experience first-hand how Sickert chronicled Britain during a period of rapid change through an outstanding and uncompromising body of work.”
The exhibition will feature a number of the artist’s depictions of London’s music halls, which shocked audiences at the time. The music hall’s working-class roots, association with heavy drinking and the innuendo of its performances, played upon Victorian anxieties. In documenting them, Sickert knowingly engaged with the public debate around morality, sex and class.
Also on display will be four of the six large-scale paintings commissioned for the dining room at the Hôtel de la Plage in Dieppe, Northern France, in 1902. The hotel owner was unhappy with the finished works and quickly sold them on separately. The paintings, which will be brought together for the first time since the early 1900s, are now considered to be among Sickert’s greatest artistic achievements.
Sickert famously became a leading influence within the Camden Town Group (1911-12), a group of artists mainly based in Camden, London, who made urban modernity the subject of their art. The exhibition will showcase some of the artist’s most iconic and controversial paintings from this period, including a series of nudes.
The exhibition will also explore the vital role that Sickert’s third wife, Thérèse Lessore (1884-1945), played in his later paintings. An established artist in her own right, her creative, collaborative role has traditionally been overlooked. It is believed that Lessore may have helped to complete some of Sickert’s paintings when he was unable to do so himself, shortly before his death in 1942.
Tickets for Sickert: A Life in Art will go on sale to members of National Museums Liverpool at 10am on 24 June. Tickets will go on general sale at 10am on 25 June. Adult tickets are priced at £12, concession rates apply and members receive free entry to the exhibition. For further information, and to book tickets, visit liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/sickert
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NOTES TO EDITOR
Walker Art Gallery
The Walker Art Gallery houses an internationally renowned collection of paintings, sculpture and decorative art. It is one of Europe’s finest galleries, with a collection that ranges from outstanding modern and contemporary works to Medieval and Renaissance masterpieces. Some of the greatest British artists of the last century are represented in the modern and contemporary galleries, from Lucian Freud and David Hockney to Barbara Hepworth and Lubaina Himid, while its Pre-Raphaelite and Impressionist collections are not to be missed. The Gallery’s Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque displays (Rooms 1-4) are currently closed to facilitate a major redevelopment programme, funded by the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport. The new galleries will showcase iconic works of art from the collection, as well as introducing some less familiar pieces. The displays will reveal fascinating new stories and enable the Gallery to explore how we exhibit and talk about historic art today.
National Museums Liverpool
National Museums Liverpool (NML) comprises seven venues, including some of the most visited museums in England outside of London. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic. We attracted more than 3 million visitors in 2019.
Our venues are Museum of Liverpool, World Museum, Walker Art Gallery, Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Sudley House and Lady Lever Art Gallery. National Museums Liverpool is regulated by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).