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Walter Richard Sickert R.A. (1860-1942)

Vesta Victoria at the Old Bedford

Oil on panel
14 1/2 x 9 1/4 ins (37 x 23.5 cms)


Private collection, UK

There are three versions of this subject - one signed work and two preparatory oil studies - all similar in size and content and all meticulously worked. It is probable that these paitings and several preparatory drawings were done around 1890.

Vesta Victoria (1874-1951) first appeared at the Bedford Music Hall in March 1890. Over a long career, beginning in 1883, as Little Victoria, she remained a perennial favourite of the Music Hall. Her most popular songs included 'Daddy wouldn't buy me a bow wow', 'Poof John', 'Waiting at the Church' and 'Our lodger's such a nice young man' - some are known and still sung today.

In design these paintings illustrate a sophisticated compromise between severe simplicity and more ambitious dexterity. Despite its narrow format, Sickert has managed to crowd a wealth of architectural detail into 'Vesta Victoria' using a mirror image to extend the composition to embrace a glimpse of the gallery above and of a member of the audience in the stalls below.

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