Reproduced with permission of Manchester City Art Gallery
The information in this short article derives mainly from Philippa Bishop’s 2002 extensive article “Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942) Painter of the Bath Scene” published in Bath History Volume IX.
Walter Sickert, born in Munich in 1860 to a Danish father and English mother, lived the latter part of his life, from 1905, in England and was both a prolific painter an important influence on British avant-garde art. Whilst he he spent his final years living in Bathampton (1938 to 1942), his first visits to Bath were in the summers of 1917 and 1918, as a respite from the Zeppelin raids over London. That Sickert found Bath to be such a source of artistic inspiration is clear: ”Bath is it! There never was such a place for rest and comfort and leisurely work. Such country, and such town”.
In 1917, Sickert lived with his wife Christine on Entry Hill and he invited a young artist, Nina Hamnett, to join them in Bath in order that she also could could benefit from such inspiration. Bath, however, was not to her more Bohemian liking and she soon left, having boarded in the artisan area of Holloway. Sickert’s rendering of this area can be seen in “Paradise Row, Holloway”, now hanging in the Manchester City Art Gallery. Whilst the view across Holloway has changed drastically with the building of the Carlton Gardens estate, the immediate vicinity remains intact, with Paradise House on the left hand side. The map below shows Holloway (here called Fossway) on the 1886 Ordnance Survey, with the position and direction of Sickert’s easel shown by the red arrow. The accompanying photograph has been taken from roughly the same viewpoint. (Sickert himself made extensive use of photography to record scenes for his subsequent painting). The changes are immediately apparent. Whilst the handrail appears unchanged with its distinctive right-hand kink, the lampost is a later addition to the scene. Of course, the buildings on the other side of Holloway have radically changed with the demolition of the old housing and the building of the Carlton Gardens estate. The road that is now the Carlton Gardens cul-de-sac, seen in the centre of the photograph, was originally Carlton Road, a thoroughfare between Holloway and Lyncombe Hill, seen rising up the the right in the painting.