Walter Sickert

Walter Sickert was born in 1860 in Munich, Germany and was a British painter and printmaker who was a member of the Camden Town Group of Post-Impressionist artists in early 20th-century London. Sickert was well known for his subtle use of colour, paintings of interiors, city streets and nudes. Sickert studied at the University College School in London before becoming the assistant of James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

Reclining Nude – Le Lit de Cuivre
Walter Sickert, 1906

For the purpose of this blog post I have chosen to look more closely at Sickert’s ‘Reclining nude’. The painting is quite intimate, yet also feels slightly censored in that we can barely see the face of the woman posing, despite seeing her bare body. The angle of the nude is quite typical of paintings during this era, but the surroundings and juxtaposition of the bed slightly jars with this, with the soft curvature of the woman’s body contrasted against the straight metal railings of the bed. The same could be said for the colour used in this painting, with green and red sitting on opposite ends of the colour wheel, this too, creates an energy in the painting.

I decided to create a response to Sickert by using oil on board. Instead of painting in layers, painting in a ground or underpainting, as I have done so previously I felt I should on this occasion paint quite thickly directly onto the surface mixing the paints on the board. I used pencil to square off my painting area on the board, and also used the pencil to gently mark out the important shapes of the nude, as well as the various angles of the bed. The end result is quite different to that of Sickert’s, whose painting is quite soft and blurred, mine is quite rough and irregular. I do really like this version of the painting though and enjoyed painting in this style, similarly to using oils to paint the tablet packets in Packaging Study, I think this is something I’d like to explore more.

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