Lady in a Pink Ballgown with Gentleman in Green

Walter Sickert

Royal Collection Trust, UK

Royal Collection Trust, UK

Full-length seated double portrait of a woman, wearing a pink ruffled ballgown, and a man wearing a green suit and hat; both sitting on a crimson settee against an ornate gold background.

Little is known about this late painting by Sickert. Labels on the back indicate that it was with the dealer Charles Jackson (as Fancy Dress Ball) and with a private collector in Didsbury before going to Leger & Son, where it was bought by Queen Elizabeth in 1941.

The costume of the figure on the left recalls that of a pierrot in a ‘Commedia dell’Arte’ scene by Watteau. However, the pierrot was a potent subject that continued to be explored in late 19th and early 20th century literature and art. Indeed, Sickert had painted a troupe of ‘Brighton Pierrots’ in 1915 (Tate). The theme of dressing up also relates to Sickert’s first love of the music hall and the theatre.

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