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Sickert's "Mrs. Barrett"

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  • #76
    Wow, the woman actually looks as if she was on the bed in the foreground, if you see what I mean.
    I've been squinting at the sketch like nobody's business, and found nothing, either.
    Except it looks lovely that way, and... joyful! Quite a surprise, really, seeing his usual outlook on portraiture, or am I mistaken?
    Yes, I do understand why patricia Cornwell was misled, but a lot has to do I suspect, with her generally, let's say, confrontational attitude to males.
    And she certainly was a bit too aggressive in her statements.
    A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal. (O Wilde)


    • #77
      ps, cat: I do hope I didn't sound defensive; I didn't think you thought I believed Sickert the killer - just making it clear that I'm not making a case for his being the perp or not, so much as examining him either way and in general via the paintings and related factlets. Also, wasn't that a van Eyck? The engagement picture, I mean - can't recall the title off the top of my head (my memory is awful).

      Oh - we crossposted - on the bed? I'll have a closer look in a moment. And yes, joyful, I think so. It seems to be a sketch of the Mrs. Barrett painting I posted earlier, which is also not so gloomy as most of the others.
      Last edited by Ausgirl; 08-01-2011, 09:38 PM.


      • #78
        I just found this archived forum thread on "Jack the Ripper's Bedroom" :

        In it, Mark Starr makes a really great analysis of the picture, really worth reading for a different view entirely on the piece.

        I believe Sickert quite deliberately made things ambiguous and 'suggested' various interpretations as part of the mystique and message of his art, possibly nowhere more than in this particular painting.

        Mr. Starr, cheers for that post!


        • #79
          You didn't sound defensive at all, Ausgirl, I just realised I'd been somewhat unclear!
          I suddenly remembered the portrait I was trying to name (it was an Italian name, drat, should have known better: The Arnolfini Portrait). So I went and checked - I'm a compulsive cross reference reader, amongst other things
          And indeed, it was van Eyck, good for you. (I know I sound awful, but as a half Italian, I must confess all these "stranieri" names tend to confuse me!)
          I read a bit of the thread you quoted, and there is the feeling that the bed and floor seem to merge into each other, I'm glad I'm not the only one who was confused by the blurried perspective.
          As for a coat tree theory, well, I guess we'll all have to go to Manchester to really have an idea of what the painitng really looks like.
          ps perhaps the real scoop here is the sketch you posted: a happy woman! Drawn by Sickert!! It's the end of the world as we know it!
          A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal. (O Wilde)


          • #80
            Haha, cat - better grab our britches! I get the feeling he may have even liked Mrs. Barrett-the-model, despite his treatment of her in some of his paintings.

            But back to misery: La Hollandaise is a great example of Sickert teasing his audience with glimpses and suggestions.

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            The face (or lack thereof) is quite eerie. It's been noted many times how the nose seems cut off, and there's no discernible mouth; the 'whore' depicted is not just faceless, she has been defaced. It's quite horrible, to state the obvious. If it wasn't so tied to the idea of murder, via the Camden Town series and the Eddowes-like noselessness, I'd probably view it purely as a social and/or artistic statement. Hard to do, all things considered, though. Which I think was half the point, at least.

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            But what is even more curious is the scene in the mirror beside her. It suggests a person sleeping soundly in a bed, oblivious to what's going on elsewhere in the room. To me, it looks like a different room altogether.

            Just another example of the kind of suggestion employed in the "Mrs. Barrett" picture with the mirror. Which was never titled "Blackmail" by the artist himself, apparently.

            Edit: And here's an equally horrible sketch, but one which shows that perhaps Sickert -did- possess a degree of sympathy for women (got those britches in hand, cat?).

            It's titled My awful dad, and shows a man reclining with a smug smile and his hands down his pants - the rather unhappy-looking girl perhaps is his daughter, or that's the suggestion of the title. Note the hammer-like shape behind her back, as if she's waiting to smack him one any moment:

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            Last edited by Ausgirl; 08-03-2011, 01:58 AM.


            • #81
              I didn't understand the point of this thread three years ago when it started, and I don't understand it any better now. Could someone please tell me, as simply as possible, what the heck you are trying to establish?


              • #82
                Hello, Maurice,

                The OP stated that the painting "Mrs. Barrett" is said to depict a window into Mary Kelly's apartment. Thus, the discussion appears to have developed as an exploration of the Ripper-esque images in Sickert's "Mrs. Barret" series and other relevant paintings.

                Which is pertinent, possibly, seeing as there are several authors who have accused Walter Sickert of being Jack the Ripper or complicit in the crime, and thus he is listed a suspect here, and thus, I suppose, there have sprung up threads regarding him and his art. I could be wrong.

                Personally, I am participating in this thread because I do find Ripper-esque images in Sickert's paintings and, while I do not believe he was Jack the Ripper, I do think he may have enjoyed hinting that he had some sort of personal insight into the crime.


                • #83
                  Hi Ausgirl.

                  Personally, I am participating in this thread because I do find Ripper-esque images in Sickert's paintings and, while I do not believe he was Jack the Ripper, I do think he may have enjoyed hinting that he had some sort of personal insight into the crime.
                  You might, then, be interested in an artricle I wrote titled The Art Of Murder which can be found in the dissertation section here on the Casebook.



                  • #84
                    Wolf - I spent the earlier part of this evening reading your article, actually! But it's very late here in the antipodes, I will respond properly tomorrow. Just a short comment for now, though: thank you, I did enjoy it and learned a great deal.


                    • #85
                      strange similarity

                      I might be tired, but...
                      the thing hanging on the right in the mirror is reminiscent of the thing hanging in the second of the MJK photo, the one taken from behind the bed, which is, well, no one knows what it is. There's a very good dissertation on the subject, in which its is discounted as being a ray of light. I've got to go now, but I'll get back as soon as I find the link for it.
                      The person in the mirror doesn't look peacefully sleeping at all to me, it looks as if her/his mouth is gaping, but perhaps now I'm reading too much.
                      What is that pink ribbon with a blob at the end?
                      Thanks for these reproductions, I'd never even noticed there was a mirror.
                      Mrs Magoo, I should have chosen as a nickname!
                      A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal. (O Wilde)


                      • #86
                        Found it

                        Hello Ausgirl,
                        the title of the dissertation is "room 13 millers court" by Simon Wood.
                        Just checking I hadn't imagined it.
                        A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal. (O Wilde)


                        • #87
                          cat, thanks so much for pointing me toward that. I intend to stare at both images (photograph and painting) for a while tonight, in light of it.

                          Wolf, here's a rather blathery response to your dissertation:

                          I just finished reading Cornwell’s book. It’s a pity she’s gone all Icke-esque, was my conclusion, since she appears to have done a great deal of research and legwork, and the parts of the book where I could stop, for a moment, imagining the woman in a tin foil hat were really very interesting.

                          I think, by the by, that “Lazarus” is eating stewed prunes, which have a variety of health benefits and very well may have been part of an invalid’s recovery diet. What I find interesting about this picture is the window in the background, and the suggestion of a hatted figure peering in. The poisoned grapes theory is utter rubbish, anyway, as is the entire Royal Conspiracy thing, and all this talk of gulls in this painting or that is equally imaginative. I think, if it’s at all true that Sickert said these things to the person purporting to be his son, then he was having a jolly lend of him.

                          The ‘gull’ in the wall-painting depicted in the sketchier version of Ennui, for example (the one with the unadorned table, etc), could equally be the illuminated quarter of a moon. In fact, if you follow the line of the ‘wings’ around, it makes a perfect circle.

                          The one recurrent article that I do find curious is the red handkerchief. The red kerchief, scarf or shawl appears in the majority of the Ripper crimes –somewhere- and Sickert did depict it quite regularly as a sole spot of colour in otherwise bleak paintings. I believe the red handkerchief or neckerchief was deeply symbolic to him of the Ripper himself, and Sickert’s wearing of it may have helped him enter the ‘mental space’ of the killer – I have already commented on how this may tie in to his experiences when aspiring to become an actor. I don’t think at this point that’s it’s anything more sinister than Sickert connecting the colour red as a common motif among the murders and employing it in his paintings to add to the general discomfiting, subconscious and at times overt, cues that he quite cleverly planted in them toward a desired effect that is, in my opinion, quite successful. As I have said, this is nothing unusual, many artists have employed the method of ‘hidden images’ and subliminal suggestion – the anamorphic skull in Holbein’s ‘The Embassadors’ comes to mind as an obvious example, and the Mona Lisa’s disparate hemispheres are part of what lends it its mystique. Da Vinci may have even hidden a musical score in The Last Supper…

                          But messing with people’s head in a painting does not a murderer make. It does give a notorious edge to the work which I think Sickert both aimed for and employed as a fantastic ‘F-you’ to the artistic conventions and the moral majority of his age (plus, I think he rather liked the idea of notoriety).

                          If Sickert did indeed read that French book with the photographs in, he'd have seen Mary's room at number 13, as Eddowes' facial injuries. If he'd been paying attention to the newspapers (and I think he had, intensely) then he'd have picked up the recurrence of the red kerchief and found a handy - and creepy - symbol to employ.

                          Still, examination of his paintings for little JTR-related 'easter eggs' is kind of fun, isn't it?
                          Last edited by Ausgirl; 08-04-2011, 05:23 AM.