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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Ripper Discussions > Suspects > Sickert, Walter

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  #11  
Old 02-10-2013, 02:07 PM
RavenDarkendale RavenDarkendale is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Limehouse View Post
Was he?

There is much more to suggest he was in France at the time of the murders, surely?

Julie
It's debatable, certainly. He may have been in France, or he may have been in the Whitechapel area in one of his secret studios. Depends on whom you believe. I would however revise my own statement to "he could have been in Whitechapel where he had secret studios so he could paint undisturbed by anyone seeing one of his prostitute models entering."

Beyond the "maybe" I cannot in reality state anything. Thanks, Julie. I depend on all of you on the forum to keep me honest!

God Bless

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  #12  
Old 09-07-2013, 05:37 AM
Ausgirl Ausgirl is offline
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Gosh, I could not be tardier in offering a reply, could I? <-- rhetorical question, in case of confusion.

I think I did state somewhat early in my original post that I was not saying, nor even thinking, that Sickert was the Ripper. Sorry if anyone missed that, I'll bold and underscore it in future.

I was just eyeballing that horrible (and I still think it's horrible - quite subjectively, thank you) painting that I linked late at night, after staring at it for a bit and pondering why on earth he'd create such a ghastly, zombie-faced portrait of somebody he apparently knew. I was wondering what that young girl thought, when he showed her the finished painting. It seemed to me primarily horrible for the potential cruelty of it, I think.

As well as mulling over the various darkly suggestive works of the post-Ripper London/Camden era. Some of which are, in any light, also quite horrid to stare at, for reasons including my having the pondered the reasons for said suggestiveness.

Yes, I have studied art, along with psychology and sociology and various other bits and bobs to do with media, so not really a member of the unwashed masses, sorry. No, I haven't seen a Sickert collection in person, but I have endeavoured to look at as many quality reproductions as possible. Yes, I am aware of the general goals of the Impressionists and am quite, quite aware than none of them involved acts of faithful photographic reproduction. I am also aware that Sickert painted gorgeous idylls and some horsies, too. Just to answer a few of the many questions put.

While I am sure I'm now firmly dismissed as a Cornwellian nutjob for daring to suggest there was something wrong with Sickert, I do see hints of self-loathing in his later works, and I do see an attitude of loathing also (his own or a general sort) in the defaced, lumpy women he presents in his 'La Hollandaise' phase. And yes, some echoes of the Ripper victims --- whether this was to belatedly shock the already shocked persons of his era, thereby flogging a not quite dead horse (so to speak), or to make some sort of tantalisingly obscure social commentary, or just to belatedly play on the mystery of it all, I don't know. I think the echoes of the Ripper and Camden murders that (to me, at least, and I think I am not a lonely petunia there) do exist don't seem to actually achieve much other than to perhaps explore bits of his own inner darknesses, including the desire to shock. Some of them - in my opinion - really aren't pretty. Jack the Ripper's Bedroom, indeed.

Of course, he also saw and painted gorgeous, uplifting and obviously apparent things. But those are a tad boring, especially in discussion threads on a dedicated Jack the Ripper forum.

That said, I quite enjoy the seeming negligence (though yes, yes, it wasn't a bit negligent, bolded and underscored) in the loose application of paint depicting areas of light and dark, so that they run together in a nearly spilled-liquid (and therefore startlingly real, in a shifting-in-the-corner-of-one's-eye way). And how the defaced nature of La Hollandaise and her ilk force the eye and, through that, the mind toward a closer awareness of shape, toward the character suggested in setting and pose and even colour, defying the perceptual grip that facial expression tends to hold on the human psyche..

Also, the horsies are quite nice.

Unlike 'Chicken'.

Last edited by Ausgirl : 09-07-2013 at 05:45 AM.
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  #13  
Old 09-07-2013, 05:48 AM
pinkmoon pinkmoon is offline
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I hear a royal coach approaching
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  #14  
Old 09-07-2013, 06:09 AM
Ausgirl Ausgirl is offline
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Drawn by a flock of gulls, perhaps. For goodness' sake.

I am still curious, by the by, about the purpose of the strange leggy arms of the little figure on the wall in Ennui. Almost Cubist.. it seems very alien to the painting. I was really after a bit of discussion on it, as it's quite curious.

No seabirds required, nor syphilitic princes, unless they come bearing laudanum filled grapes, which might not be all that bad at this point.
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  #15  
Old 09-07-2013, 06:13 AM
Limehouse Limehouse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ausgirl View Post
Gosh, I could not be tardier in offering a reply, could I? <-- rhetorical question, in case of confusion.

I think I did state somewhat early in my original post that I was not saying, nor even thinking, that Sickert was the Ripper. Sorry if anyone missed that, I'll bold and underscore it in future.

I was just eyeballing that horrible (and I still think it's horrible - quite subjectively, thank you) painting that I linked late at night, after staring at it for a bit and pondering why on earth he'd create such a ghastly, zombie-faced portrait of somebody he apparently knew. I was wondering what that young girl thought, when he showed her the finished painting. It seemed to me primarily horrible for the potential cruelty of it, I think.

As well as mulling over the various darkly suggestive works of the post-Ripper London/Camden era. Some of which are, in any light, also quite horrid to stare at, for reasons including my having the pondered the reasons for said suggestiveness.

Yes, I have studied art, along with psychology and sociology and various other bits and bobs to do with media, so not really a member of the unwashed masses, sorry. No, I haven't seen a Sickert collection in person, but I have endeavoured to look at as many quality reproductions as possible. Yes, I am aware of the general goals of the Impressionists and am quite, quite aware than none of them involved acts of faithful photographic reproduction. I am also aware that Sickert painted gorgeous idylls and some horsies, too. Just to answer a few of the many questions put.

While I am sure I'm now firmly dismissed as a Cornwellian nutjob for daring to suggest there was something wrong with Sickert, I do see hints of self-loathing in his later works, and I do see an attitude of loathing also (his own or a general sort) in the defaced, lumpy women he presents in his 'La Hollandaise' phase. And yes, some echoes of the Ripper victims --- whether this was to belatedly shock the already shocked persons of his era, thereby flogging a not quite dead horse (so to speak), or to make some sort of tantalisingly obscure social commentary, or just to belatedly play on the mystery of it all, I don't know. I think the echoes of the Ripper and Camden murders that (to me, at least, and I think I am not a lonely petunia there) do exist don't seem to actually achieve much other than to perhaps explore bits of his own inner darknesses, including the desire to shock. Some of them - in my opinion - really aren't pretty. Jack the Ripper's Bedroom, indeed.

Of course, he also saw and painted gorgeous, uplifting and obviously apparent things. But those are a tad boring, especially in discussion threads on a dedicated Jack the Ripper forum.

That said, I quite enjoy the seeming negligence (though yes, yes, it wasn't a bit negligent, bolded and underscored) in the loose application of paint depicting areas of light and dark, so that they run together in a nearly spilled-liquid (and therefore startlingly real, in a shifting-in-the-corner-of-one's-eye way). And how the defaced nature of La Hollandaise and her ilk force the eye and, through that, the mind toward a closer awareness of shape, toward the character suggested in setting and pose and even colour, defying the perceptual grip that facial expression tends to hold on the human psyche..

Also, the horsies are quite nice.

Unlike 'Chicken'.
Hi Ausgirl,

You say you see 'hints of self loathing' in some of Sickert's work but we cannot be sure that this is what Sickert was actually intending to express.

Yes, of course he explored dark themes in some of his work, and perhaps he saw that as part of his role. I personally feel he was trying to depict something deeper than surface loathing. I feel there is an empathy and a pathos in some of this type of work - and you see things differently. That is the thing about art - it is subjective even when the topic is very explicit and the intention clear. That is why I have a real problem with Cornwell using the art as evidence of Sickert being a murderer.
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  #16  
Old 09-07-2013, 07:01 AM
Ausgirl Ausgirl is offline
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I.. tend to agree.

I spent some time, a whiles back and on another thread, looking closely at some of the images Sickert included in his paintings, the paintings a whole and sort of dipping my toe in the Cornwell, as it were (talk about disturbing imagery!). Because I do get a sense of inner darkness from some of his paintings, and I do think he deliberately included some almost subliminal hints regarding the Ripper, for whatever reason. As well as some less subtle..

And, as both an artist and a poet, I come from the camp of thought wherein art should not be viewed wholly independently of the artist.. How difficult it would be to get a grip on some of Plath's poems if one was completely ignorant of the life (and death) of the poet... and conversely, one can see into the artist or the poet a little bit, via the art they produce. Not all of it is as confessional as Plath was, for sure, but there -is- a tad of forensic psychology applicable to art and to poetry, as an expression from a particular living being at a particular point in their lives. Though it should be acknowledged that this applies moreso to artists in their prime, rather than at the beginning of their careers, for various sensible reasons.

Anyway - yes, subjective. But "Jack the Ripper's Bedroom" is a pretty blatant reference, yes? And 'The Camden Town Murder' (yes, yes, alternate titles available, how tantalisingly opaque of him, etc, etc). Not that this is sufficient for a leap into presumption of guilt. But it is a little bit of a window to the soul, I think, however heavily draped.

I always seem to pop in here terribly late, sorry if I'm rambly.

Last edited by Ausgirl : 09-07-2013 at 07:08 AM.
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  #17  
Old 09-07-2013, 12:39 PM
Graham Graham is offline
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I couldn't agree less about Sickert's style. He was, after all, influenced by Degas, and although perhaps not in the mainstream of Impressionism, he was nearby. I think a lot of us have been down this road before, and so all I'll say about the possibility of Sickert's being Jack the Ripper is: prove that he was anywhere other than Dieppe during the appropriate period in 1888, and I may just think again.

His painting The Camden Town Murder took as its inspiration an actual murder in 1907. I think this painting actually led to a style which became known as the Camden Town School, or some such similar appellation. He liked to paint interior scenes, music hall scenes, and was always interested in urban culture.

I seem to recall that Stephen Knight, or Joseph Sickert or both, claimed that Walter Sickert was some kind of life tutor to Prince Albert Victor, but I don't think it's ever been proven that the two of them ever met.

Jean Overton Fuller was one of the first writers to state categorically that Sickert was the Ripper, but I don't think she ever produced anything even close to proof. (Incidentally, another historical interest of mine is the activities of SOE during WW2, and I was surprised to recently learn that Jean Overton Fuller was the lover of Henri Dericourt, who played a shady and possible double role in the organisation of the Resistance in France.

Sickert's paintings were dark, deep and difficult to penetrate, but they were not, no way, 'horrible, horrible'. I love them.

Graham
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  #18  
Old 09-08-2013, 12:59 AM
Ausgirl Ausgirl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Graham View Post
I think a lot of us have been down this road before, and so all I'll say about the possibility of Sickert's being Jack the Ripper is: prove that he was anywhere other than Dieppe during the appropriate period in 1888, and I may just think again.
I think I shall have put on my headstone: "I don't think Sickert was the Ripper." As as telegraphing the point in post after post seems to not be working at all.

I do think his interest in murder is worth exploring and discussing and debating, as he was contemporary with the Ripper and did reference those murders and others in some inarguably obvious ways.

I'm not a 'follower' of anything much, let alone particular Ripper theories. But I do like to consider them, sometimes explore them in depth. I'm not here slowly labouring toward making a point in support of some particular theory or other, just to be clear. No gulls, royal carriages, secret studios, teleporting from France, etc.

Sickert's paintings are at times extremely curious and rather morbid, and in them I see dark little hints of things, and I think these are quite deliberate, and this is what to me is worth time to explore and discuss, and that is the sole point of laying fingers to keyboard here entirely.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Graham View Post
Sickert's paintings were dark, deep and difficult to penetrate, but they were not, no way, 'horrible, horrible'. I love them.
Here, we must agree to disagree. I think -some- were indeed 'horrible', in both perception and intent. At least one of them actually repulses me as is obvious enough. But that's not to say I dislike his art in general. The bulk of it is very agreeable, and all of it fine in execution. No pun intended.

I'm not sure how exactly we disagree on "Sickert's style"? Unless that was it.
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  #19  
Old 09-08-2013, 10:52 AM
RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is offline
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Originally Posted by Ausgirl View Post
Case in point: This absolutely horrible picture titled "Chicken".
Sickert has painted someone who looks like this in another painting. I don't know whether it is the same person, but it loos like someone who has a genetic syndrome called "Apert's Syndrome." In particular, it looks like a child with it. If you happen to have a mild case of it, it isn't especially serious, other than, it gets you teased. If it's serious, it can cause breathing problems, eye problems, and hearing impairment. Now, all these things can be treated-- the hearing problem usually isn't very serious, and people use modern, digital hearing aids pretty successfully. The face can be reconstructed surgically, in what is a complicated, multi-step process, but when it is over, the results are amazing.

Cosmetic surgeons are often vilified in the media, but the fact is, the huge profits they make doing rhinoplasties and tummy tucks on rich people, they often roll over into correcting things like Apert's Syndrome for children pro bono.

I don't know why this painting is called "Chicken," but if Sickert knew someone with Apert's Syndrome, and did her portrait, so what? maybe "Chicken" was her nickname in life, and he didn't bestow it. Or, maybe he saw a girl with the syndrome, and thought it would be interesting to use a model who was not typical. There's really nothing wrong with that. It just makes him "not-Norman Rockwell."

Quote:
Here's another painting, titled Miss Earhart's Arrival.
In 1932, when this picture was painted, Earhart had in fact, made an emergency landing in a Londonberry field after taking off in Newfoundland. She was plagued by icy wind, and had gone off-course for a while. The press covered the landing. She probably did look awful, and if Sickert wasn't personally there, he may have seen Earhart only in newspaper images, which meant black & white, and may have chosen to have her exit the plane looking like a newspaper photograph, something which might have been more obvious to people in 1932.

Quote:
Here's some subtle Sickert horror: "Self Portrait"
In my experience, self-portraits are often distorted.

Quote:
Speaking of limbs - the famous detail from "Ennui".

The figure is often supposed to be 'Queen Victoria'. But if you look at it, its arms are not actually connected to its body at all. And what is taken for 'green fur' or 'bushes' looks to me a lot like water. The whole looks rather like a chopped up person being thrown into a river. Which tends to make an odd kind of sense in a painting like 'Ennui', where a murder might seem something like a relief.
Apparently that is a sort-of copy of an actual painting of Queen Victoria, which is why it has been identified as such. I don't think the arms look detached, but the whole thing is quite undignified, which is probably some kind of comment on Ennui and "Victorianism." Also, there's some kind of figure behind it which, to me, looks like Max Schrek in Nosferatu (1922), which if course it can't be, since the film hadn't come out yet. If I zoom in much closer, it starts to look like a whole figure, staring up, seen from a bird's eye view, which means we have some kind of bizarre angle than bends downward. Also, the "Victoria" figure seems to be looking forward and sideways at the same time, but that is a feature of painting at this time. Picasso made millions off it.

It's also a feature of impressionism that something which looks perfectly clear from a distance isn't so clear close up, and that is true with number of these pictures, something you can't really appreciate looking at them on a computer screen. If you are able to see them in a gallery, do so. If not, try at least printing out the highest resolution images you can, on say, four sheets of 8.5 x 11 paper (or whatever standard college paper is in the UK) and then put them on the wall, and stand closer and farther away.

Also, compare Sickert to other people who used similar colors, like Goya, or distortion for effect, like El Greco.

Sickert's time period was influential too, I think, in that he read a lot of newspapers, seriously a lot. He was aware of what was happening around him, but also of the emerging craft of photojournalism. I think seeing the way that news photos, flash photo was invented, could capture raw humanity, influenced the way he painted. I think even blurry photos and films may have influenced him, and some of what we think of just a kind of impressionism may have been an attempt to capture motion blur.
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  #20  
Old 09-08-2013, 12:05 PM
Mayerling Mayerling is offline
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Funny thing about Sickert is that he is probably the only Ripper suspect whose name recognition (as a well known celebrity in his own right) was enhanced by Cornwall's book. Even if you don't accept her ideas, to the general public she did put Sickert "on the map".

As for his interest in the Ripper Case, he blabbed about it apparently at the drop of a hat. One of his points of discussion (that Sitwell mentioned) was the story of the mysterious boarder who only went out at night (later turned by Mrs. Belloc Lowndes into "The Lodger"). He apparently mentioned it to his friends Max Beerbohm and William Rothenstein, and Beerbohm made a comment about Sitwell knowing the name of the Ripper, and writing it in a book belonging to Rothenstein (which was subsequently destroyed in World War II). By the way, while he and Beerbohm were friendly the latter would do caricatures of Sickert showing him on the edge of crowds sort of lurking. I just mention that in passing as odd.

But Sitwell also mentioned that the Whitechapel Murders were not the only crime that interested Sickert - he was fascinated by the "Tichborne Claimant" Mystery and trial. And (although used by Cornwall to draw odd connections between Mary Kelly's murder and his canvasses) Sickert did do that series of paintings about the 1907 "Camden Town" murder of Phyllis Dimmock - possibly (I think anyway) because the defendant who was tried but acquitted was a fellow artist, Robert Wood.

Jeff
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