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Sickert had a great love of the theatre, having worked in repertory companies and often touring the provinces between 1877 and 1881, before he became an artist. The stage was an important theme in his work throughout his career. This important example of Sickert's late painting shows his friend, the actress Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies, in the part of Florence Nightingale in 'The Lady with a Lamp'. However, there is no record of Sickert having seen this play, which was on tour in the autumn of 1929. During the 1930s he was increasingly unable to go to the theatre, particularly after 1934 when he moved out of London to St Peter's-in-Thanet, so this was almost certainly painted from photographs. In later years Sickert would frequently use press photographs, and in the case of Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies, photographs from her own albums, as he appreciated the immediacy of the reportage photograph.
oil on canvas
H 122 x W 68.6 cm
gift from Colin St John Wilson through the National Art Collections Fund, 2004