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A woman sits astride the arm of a couch, the droop of her head extended by the plumage of her head-dress, her legs slumped out in a 'V'. Shoes have been cast aside and stockinged feet cut short. This is a moment off-guard, and recalls the conseils of Degas: 'He said that painters too much made of women formal portraits, whereas their hundred and one gestures, their chatteries, &c., should inspire an infinite variety of design...' Sickert handles the paint loosely, with cursory brushstrokes reflecting the influence of photography. Against the subdued browns and greens, dabs of white and yellow reveal a direct light source, illuminating the woman's neck and shoulders and picking out the crumples in her breeches. Painted some time into World War I, this sketchy piece taps into the contemplative mood of Brighton Pierrots, from the same period.
oil on canvas
H 49.5 x W 39.4 cm
purchased from Sotheby's, 1949