An exhibition at The Fitzwilliam Museum
focuses on three of the most original painters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: John Singer Sargent, Walter Sickert and Stanley Spencer.
Drawn from The Fitzwilliam Museums holdings of paintings, watercolours and drawings by these three artists, which are amongst the finest in the UK, this exhibition offers the chance to explore the hidden depths of the Museums world-class collections.
At first glance, the lives and careers of these artists appear disparate. Sargent (1856-1925), an American based in Europe, was one of the leading portraitists of his day, whose suave society paintings appeared in sharp contrast to the darker social realism of his contemporary, the German-born London Impressionist Sickert (1860-1942) and even further from the naïve visions of Spencers (1891-1959) native Berkshire. Yet, as this exhibition shows, their lives and careers intersected in a number of ways.
Presenting over seventy works, from landscapes and portraiture to interiors and nudes, and including little-seen sketches and studies, Sargent, Sickert, Spencer examines what divided these painters stylistically, and what united them artistically. The exhibition will explore a number of themes:
Artists on the move: an exploration of these artists travels, with images depicting locations as diverse as Jerusalem, Corfu, Sicily and Majorca (Sargent), Paris, Dieppe, London (Sickert) and Sarajevo (Spencer), with particular focus upon Sargents and Sickerts views of Venice
War zones: depictions of soldiers and military life by Sargent and Spencer and their friends and associates, including Henry Tonks and Muirhead Bone
Music, music halls and theatres: surveying Sickerts images of music and performance, set in Paris, London and Dieppe
Landscapes: a genre each of these artists embarked on with relief or resignation, from Sargents Olives in Corfu (1909) to Spencers Landscape in North Wales (1938)
Interiors and the nude: reviewing images such as Sickerts Mornington Crescent Nude (1907) and Spencers Self-Portrait with Patricia Preece (1937), exploring their frequently unsettling depictions of nude female models
Spencer, God and love: an examination of Spencers overarching themes, as explored in such visionary masterpieces as Love Among the Nations (1935-1936) and Love on the Moor (1949-1954)
These works will also be juxtaposed with others from the Museums collection, including drawings by Charles Keene, Degass depiction of Lyon Cathedral, and Sermons by Artists, a collection of writings by Spencer, Paul Nash and others.