Completed British 20th C, except portraits, South East England: Artists and Subjects 38 Is this one of Sickert's Echos? Is it 'Margate in the Time of Turner'?

Topic: Painting description

Stylistically this looks like one of Sickert's Echos. He did paint 'Margate in the Time of Turner', a picture either lost or not yet identified. The costumes here indeed suggest that Sickert was not painting a contemporary scene.

This painting was mistakenly titled 'View of Ramsgate' in Wendy Baron's 'Sickert Paintings and Drawings', New Haven and London, 2006, pp.515–516. It is based on J. Roberts' engraving after W. H. Bartlett published by J. T. Hinton with the title 'Margate Pier and Harbour'. The engraving was published in 'The Watering Places of Great Britain and Fashionable Directory illustrated views of all the places of resort in the United Kingdom’, James Robins, 1833.

'Margate in the Time of Turner' was no. 16 in the Beaux Arts Gallery's 20th April–14th May 1937 exhibition, 'Notable paintings by Richard Sickert'. This suggests that it may have been painted when the artist was living nearby in St Peter's, Thanet. Sickert lived there from 1934 to 1938: he had a studio in Margate, delivered a series of six lectures at Margate School of Art, and exhibited in local exhibitions at Lovelys, Northdown Road, Cliftonville.

No. 60 in the Beaux Arts Gallery's Summer exhibition of paintings and drawings by eminent modern French and English artists from 18th July to 4th August and from 4th to 29th September was 'Margate', priced at £175. This could well be the same picture.

Kirklees Museums and Galleries does not have any definitive information to add. In its files it has various correspondence relating to the works as an 'Echo'. There is also a letter from 1973 suggesting that the work could be a view of 'Paragon and West Cliff, Ramsgate' exhibited as number 226 in the 1885 annual exhibition of the Society of British Artists.

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

Jade Audrey King,

It has been recommended that this work does appear to be the Sickert 'echo' (c.1931-1932) of 'Margate in the Time of Turner'.

This amend will appear on Art UK in due course.

Thank you to all for participating in this discussion. To those viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all comments that led to this conclusion.


Matthew Imms,

In historical and topographical terms, this view can be compared with William Daniell's 1823 aquatint of the 'Pier at Margate':

The small blue house with a door on its near side was Mrs Booth's, where Turner famously stayed. The elevated viewpoint is Fort Point, which no longer exists in this form; the area on this side of the pier was radically redeveloped. The Turner Contemporary gallery occupies the site of the buildings on the left.

From the title of his 1937 exhibit, Sickert clearly knew of the Turner connection. It would be interesting to know if he was aware that Turner's lodgings were actually shown here. Bernard Falk's 1938 book 'Turner the Painter: His Hidden Life' includes a photograph from another angle identifying the house.

I have recently catalogued some of Turner's own views of the site:

Andrea Kollmann,

My previous comment should have read "The painting could be based ..." (I wish there was an edit function ...)

Malcolm Fowles,

I'm looking at Wendy Baron's "Sickert: Paintings and Drawings", 2006, Yale University Press in Google Books. On p.509 is

"Margate in the Time of Turner [after Francesco Sargent]
oil on canvas 63.5 x 76.2
inscriptions and whereabouts unknown
BAG 1932 (11); BAG 1933 (16); BAG 1937 (16)

So that's a couple of extra exhibitions before 1937, and a size that roughly matches. Plus the Ramsgate error is absent.

Andrea seems to have correctly identified a more direct source of Sickert's painting, containing details that are not in the Roberts-after-Bartlett engraving that Martin found - the flag, the foreground figures, etc. Can anyone cast light on the mysterious 'Francesco Sargeant', perhaps the engraver of the Leisure Hour wood-engraving?

Malcolm Fowles,

Andrea, you were right first time.

Sickert's is an accurate reproduction of the "Leisure Hour" engraving, as you can see from the figures, the boats and the frontages near Turner's home. I think you'll find that Sickert is known to have used magazine copies. The magazine presumably engaged Francesco Sargent, a noted landscape engraver.

The 1823 aquatint of the 'Pier at Margate' referenced above differs substantially. It may have been Sargent's inspiration, of course, but not his detailed reference.

It is not alone. shows the aquatint and another view. I am forming an image of artists jostling for the best position at the top of this slope!

Malcolm Fowles,

Rebecca Daniels in "Walter Richard Sickert's 'Echoes' from the 'London Journal' ", The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 150, No. 1261, British Art and Architecture (Apr., 2008), pp. 256-259 includes two other works after Sargent, with illustrations. They are '[Grovers Island from] Richmond Hill' and 'Dublin from Phoenix Park'.

You'll need an academic login to JSTOR to access this article.

She says "Sickert painted several 'Echoes' ... from landscape engravings by Francesco Sargent, who joined the London Journal from the Illustrated London News in 1848. These romantic idylls with small groups of figures wearing mid-Victorina shawls and tailcoats appear to show Sickert celebrating the past."

I believe that the London Journal was Sickert's major source of 'Echoes', so the Leisure Hour seems a bit unusual. Maybe he followed Sargent?

Osmund Bullock,

Well done, all – especially Martin, for raising this and getting much of the way there, and Andrea for (yet again) digging out a crucial source.

Athough his 'La Traviata: Echo of Sir John Gilbert' seems to have been the first exhibited by Sickert (Savile Gallery Feb 1928) to be describes as an 'Echo', there was an entire exhibition of them in May 1931 at the Leicester Galleries (Ernest Brown & Phillips no. 513): 'English Echoes. A series of paintings by Richard Sickert, A.R.A.'

The review in 'The Spectator' makes clear that he sourced his wood-engraved images far more widely than just 'The London Journal' – it mentions the names of four other publications (and "all the rest of them") and six engravers (including Gilbert & Franceso Sargent). The catalogue was illustrated in colour, and is to be found in the National Art Library – it might prove fruitful. There are further Leicester Galleries exhibitions of Sickert paintings in 1929 and 1934-40 which may perhaps also yield something.

The Spectator's reviewer also noted that "Mr. Sickert adds to the catalogue ... a series of brief biographical notes of the artists who have been his sources for 'English Echoes'." This could be useful, as the true identity of 'Francesco Sargent' it is not immediately obvious. After a fair amount of digging, however, I believe him to be George Frederick Sargent (Woolwich 1811-1864 Islington). I don't know if this has ever been suggested before, so I had better give my evidence in another post. Bear with me, possibly not until tomorrow.

Osmund Bullock,

There is an extensive preview of Wendy Baron's 2006 book on Google Books: . As well as mentioning Francesco Sargent in the context of several works, she quotes the biographical notes on him by Sickert from the 1931 exhibition catalogue I mention above; but it adds little factual: " ... draughtsman on wood for many years around the 'fifties on the staff of the famous 'London Journal'. His collaboration with Gorway as engraver resulted in an output which, for quality, vivacity and variety has probably never been equalled ... "

Martin Hopkinson,

The J Roberts engraving was of course from the time of Turner and 'The Leisure Hour ' print which must be based on it was published not long after Turner's death, but Andrea is of course right as to that being Sickert's source.

Malcolm Fowles,

Are we agreed that the painting is positively identified and this can close?

The size of 'Margate in the Time of Turner' in Wendy Baron's book matches to within measurement variation.

Baron's estimate of 1931/2 (from a 1932 exhibition) is almost the collection's painting date of 1930. It would be nice to find out where they got this from.

I noticed several other obvious Echoes in the Art UK images, and the collections either have little information on them or haven't bothered. Is it worth opening a generic investigation to qualify them all?

The curiosity in the original image (albeit B&W, but of distinctive pattern), and translated into colour by Sickert, is the use of a white ensign on the pier flagmast. It was at the time just a Royal Naval squadronal colour -along with red and blue-, predating its allocation as the specific Royal Naval ensign (from 1864). Margate was not a naval port or under command of a flag-officer of the white squadron, who would in any case have normally only flown such a flag on a guardship. It's perhaps just an artistic quirk. The stone pier, designed by John Rennie, was completed in 1815 after its wooden predecessor was destroyed in a storm in 1808. The distinctive Droit House (the former Margate Harbour Company offices to landward) dates to 1812 and the lighthouse on the seaward end was added in 1829. Both were designed by William Edmunds of Margate, mentioned in the proceedings of the Institute of Civil Engineers in 1857 as 'an Architect and Surveyor of considerable local eminence', though his dates are not immediately apparent.

Is the conclusion here that the picture under discussion is probably the 'missing' Sickert?

Malcolm Fowles,

A search in the National Art Library catalogue for Sargent finds him catalogued as G.F.Sargent. He has two works of his own, both books of engravings on wood, but he was clearly in demand because there are 12 other references. Some explicitly credit him as illustrator. Some are engravings "after G.F.Sargent", which suggests he was also an influence.

The earliest reference to him seems to be 1838. Several postdate Osmund's 1864 date for his demise, and not all of them are "after ...".

As he is not insignificant, I think the collection should add "(after Francesco Sargent)" to the attribution.

Oliver Perry,

Sickert may have been confusing two artists - father and son. George Frederick Francesco Sargent was christened in the City of London in 1837, son of George Frederick Sargent (presumably the one born in 1811) and his wife Rosa Francesca. He was almost certainly too young to have drawn the view of Margate.

But we do know that George Frederick Francesco Sargent was an artist as he is describe as such in bankuptcy proceedings in 1891:

The older George Federick had faced bankuptcy proceedings in 1846:
George Frederick Sargent (sometimes called by the name of George Frederick Sargeant), of No. 5, Bouverie-street, Fleet-street, in the city of London, also occupying Apartments at No. 20, Saint George's-terrace, Canterbury, in the county of Kent, Artist and Draughtsman ......"

Both his dates and the Kent address makes it likely that he was the artist Sickert was copying.

Oliver Perry,

A little more on George Frederick Francesco Sargent. In 1892 "The British Architect" reported that "Yet Mr. G. F. F. Sargent accounts for monetary difficulties by the fact that he has been occupied three years painting the large gallery picture of the "Queen's Jubilee Garden Party," containing about 400 portraits...."

The painting is now in the Royal Collection, the artist's name given as "Frederick Sargent (1837-99)". He also has some works on Art UK.

Malcolm Fowles,

The name of Francesco Sargent is used by both Wendy Baron and Rebecca Daniels (see above). Daniels references Baron. As you say, there is no way that Francesco, so named from his mother's line, could have been the illustrator who joined the London Journal in 1848. Presumably Baron, her own sources and/or Sickert himself, got lost in the maze of past references to G.F. and G.F.F.

This may also be why the National Art Library catalogue for G.F.Sargent contains works that appear to postdate his death; there may also be illustrations engraved posthumously.

Anyway, the result is that our title ought to be "Margate in the Time of Turner (after G.F.Sargent)". Other 'Echoes' on Art UK are "after Sir John Gilbert", so why should this do different? The close matches between the date and dimensions of the painting and those derived from an exhibition catalogue by Baron clinch the identification for me.

PS I did not know that Wendy Baron was the Director of the Government Art Collection, as well as the expert on Sickert.

Oliver Perry,

It certainly seems to be Sickert's mistake, as at least one of his paintings - the one in the Christie's link above - is actually inscribed "After Francesco Sargent", and the name is also used in a review of his works in the Spectator in 1931.

Osmund Bullock,

Yes, Malcolm, the 1848 reference clearly rules out the son. It seems doubtful, too, that he could have been on the Journal’s staff “for many years around the 'fifties”, as Sickert wrote. In 1854, and for the next 20 years, GFFS (as ‘Frederick Sargent’) began exhibiting small watercolour portraits and miniatures at the RA. Later on, as Oliver says, he took to painting big multi-portrait oils, together with single celebrity portraits (Disraeli, Gladstone, Dickens) – these all apparently designed to be issued as prints. Later still he was one of the first artists to live and work at St Ives – see and (though the author of both books mistakes him as a well-connected society painter, and mysteriously thinks he was German-born – the 1899 Probate of our man confirms he lived there). Furthermore, while there are countless references to and examples of his father’s name on woodcuts, I have yet to find a single reference to the son in this context.

So yes, it seems there was at some stage confusion between father and son. Confusion could certainly have arisen if GFFS was his father's apprentice/assistant for a while in the early 50s – but rather against that is the 1851 Census, in which GFFS (an only child, living with his parents in Blackfriars Rd, Southwark) is already listed as just ‘Frederick’ (aged 15), and there is no mention of him yet being an artist, an apprentice or anything else. There is one other possibility: could it be that 'Francesco' was also a nickname the father George Frederick used – something perhaps read somewhere by Sickert, or even mentioned to him by someone who had known him?

Osmund Bullock,

The (tenuous) rationale for a ‘Francesco’ nickname is that in April 1837, just five weeks before his son’s birth on 10th May, GFS married (in the City) Rosa Francesca Narcissa Alferes: she was a widow from Barcelona, ten years his senior. Apparently taken enough with his wife’s middle name to give a male version of it to their son, by the 1841 Census they are living in Islington, his profession ‘Artist’ (as also given at GFFS’s baptism). At the 1851 they have moved to Southwark and he is an ‘Artist on Wood’**.

By 1861, however, George Frederick and Rosa have separated. He (again ‘Artist on Wood’) is back in Islington, but living with another woman as husband and wife; also there is his mother (or perhaps hers), together with several children, and it seems possible that at least the two youngest (aged 9 & 7) are his – the Census entry is hard to interpret, perhaps deliberately. Meanwhile his wife Rosa is living in Clapham with her son (‘George F F Sargent’, ‘Artist in Oils’), his wife, their two infant children and a live-in nurse. Oddly, though, Rosa has now dropped her ‘Francesca’ first middle name, and has the second initial ‘B’ – for ‘Benita’, as we learn when her husband dies three years later. Could it be that Francesca/Francesco had become a name too emotionally charged, forever tied to the husband who had deserted her for another woman? As I say, all a pretty tenuous hypothesis.

[**One should perhaps make clear that George Frederick Sargent was not (as far as I can see) a wood engraver. He was the man who drew the design (on to the block itself, I think, based on a preliminary drawing) for the engraver to cut out.]

Osmund Bullock,

George Frederick senior died at his Islington home on 19th March 1864. He had been born at Woolwich on 21st Nov 1811, and baptised there in Feb 1812. There are numerous possible reasons why prints by/after him would have been used after his death, even for the first time – it is common, and certainly not a matter of concern. Administration of his small £50 estate was granted to his widow Rosa Benita Narcissa Sargent, of Brixton. His financial problems seem to have been a permanent fixture – as well as the 1846 insolvency, he had already been insolvent in Nov 1843, and was again in Jan 1859. The Dictionary of C19th British Book Illustrators notes that he (“a prolific illustrator of topographical and antiquarian works”) was considered too poor an artist to be seconded for the NWS in 1854. On the basis of this wonderful collection of over 200 London views by him in pen-and-ink and watercolour held by the London Metropolitan Archive, I would strongly disagree (unless they meant his lack of money): . You may have to redo the search – if so, enter “Sargent, George Frederick”. Like several sources, they have his correct dates.

In case documentary evidence is useful, I will post separately a pdf of all the relevant genealogical documents for both father and son.

Malcolm Fowles,

Those London views are a joy! Thank you. I am intrigued by the aerial views of Waterloo Bridge and, especially, South Kensington Museum. Tethered balloon, perhaps?

Malcolm Fowles,

As to Sargent's mistake, it is easy to understand. He was in his late thirties when Francesco died, and would have known of him before that from the London art milieu. Then he finds a trove of old magazines with engravings by G.F.Sargent ...

Malcolm Fowles,

Don't you just hate not being able to retrieve typing errors on this site?

Oliver Perry,

But there is good evidence that GFFS used "Francesco" or rather "Francisco" professionally at some time, to differentiate himself from his father.

An advertisemant in "The Publishers Circular" for April 1857 read:
"G.F. SARGENT, Designer and Draughtsman on Wood, begs to inform his Patrons and Publishers that he has REMOVED his STUDIO from 14, Beaufort Buildings, Strand, to 4, Brydges Street, Covent Garden, where he will be happy to receive orders for all kinds of Book or Periodical Illustrations. Portraits taken and drawn on the wood by Francisco [sic] Sargent.";
The NPG has a large series of portrait drawings, catalogued as by Frederick Sargent.

And in fact, looking closely at the Sickert in the Christie's link, it is actually inscribed "Francisco" rather than Franceso. There are also references to a photographer called "Francisco Sargent" in the 1870s...

Perhaps just worth pointing out that a few of the 236 G.F. Sargent items (certainly a mine of information) in LMA are woodcuts: nos 173 and 178 are book illustrations of the Tower of London after him, and 208-9 and a number right at the end from Henry Vizetelly's wood-engraved version of his panorama of London published by the 'Pictorial Times' in 1844. Boiling it down we have

Gerge Frederick Sargent (1811-64), draughtsman, working mainly in London producing drawings for engraving in topographical and antiquarian publications, mainly on wood. He was born at Woolwich on 21 November 1811 and appears to have had ongoing financial difficuties since he was declared insolvent in 1843, 1846 and 1859. In April 1837 he married in London (City) to Rosa Francesca Narcissa Alferes, a widow from Barcelona ten years his senior, and had a number of children by her starting with a son, George F.F. Sargent born that May. By 1861, however, they had separated and he was living with another woman in Islington as man and wife, although Rosa was the beneficiary of his small estate (under £50) when he died there on 18 March 1864. There is a collection of 236 London drawings by him (including a few woodcuts after) in the London Metropolitan Archive.

George Frederick Francesco Sargent, usually called 'Frederick Sargent', (1837 -99) the eldest child of George Frederick Sargent and his wife Rosa, was born in London on 10 May 1837, five weeks after his parents' marriage. In 1854, and for the next 20 years -as 'Frederick Sargent' - he began exhibiting small watercolour portraits and miniatures at the RA . After his parents' separation before 1861 he lived with his mother and that years census (Clapham) is listed as an 'Artist in Oils'. Later he took to painting big multi-portrait oils, together with single celebrity portraits (e.g. Disraeli, Gladstone, Dickens), all apparently designed to be issued as prints. Queen Victoria breifly sat to him, posssibly for a miniature, in 1884, but later wrote of his larger work that she did not wish ' to encourage the multiplication of his daubs', possibly after seeing 'The Court of Queen Victoria' (1885) which she declined to purchase, though it is now in the Royal Collection: that Collection nonetheless bought his 'The Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, 20 June 1887' in 1994, and other similar large compositions are in Manchester and the Government Art Collection. Later still Sargent was one of the first artists to live and work at St Ives but ultimately died in poverty. He and his father have often been confused, with the name 'Francesco' wrongly applied to the former: there is so far no evidence the son's work was reproduced as wood engravings so mid-century ones the Sargent name on them are after George senior.

Osmund Bullock,

Aren't they great, Malcolm? I had wondered (in both senses) about the aerial views, and yes, you must surely be right about a tethered balloon. There is actually among them a drawing of a balloon that has come down in the river by Vauxhall Bridge, apparently an escapee from Cremorne Gdns (not, I think, a hot-air one, as catalogued). There will probably be newspaper reports of that to be dug out.

Oliver, that 1857 advertisement is a very interesting find indeed, and I think the key to all this. It puts paid to my fanciful idea of a nickname for the father, strongly supporting the alternative scenario that his son worked closely with him in the '50s using his second middle-name Francesco/Francisco, and that memories of the two men's names later became intertwined. The request for a pupil further suggests that the young man (now aged 20) wished to make his own way elsewhere - and in fact the old address given (Beaufort Buildings) is that used by the son for his RA exhibiting 1854-56, after which they apparently part company. Could this have coincided with the discovery that his father had another 'wife' and perhaps family (I'm on the trail of this) elsewhere?

It's actually odd that he was christened 'Francesco' at all - possibly an error in the register, as I think 'Francisco' is the Spanish form of the name. And (thank you again, Oliver) for the photographer reference - it's definitely him, as the address give for that 1870-71 venture, 97 New Bond St, is the same one he used for an exhibit at the RA in 1871.

The NPG drawings of MPs and Peers are, I think, the portrait sketches he made in preparation for big multi-portrait oils he did of both Houses of Parliament.

Osmund Bullock,

Pieter, that's (as ever) a great summary, thank you. A couple of minor tweaks: we know GFFS was born in Islington (rather than the more generic 'London), and he was GFS and Rosa's *only* child, not their eldest - though it's looking quite possible (but as yet unconfirmed) that GFS was simultaneously running another family elsewhere. And though GFS died intestate and worth very little, GFFS's position had recovered enough by his death in 1899 to give him a respectable estate of £686. It looks as if he, too, was at least partly separated from his wife (they did have several children) - he was absent from the family on all three censuses 1871-91 (though using their address to exhibit from in 1874); and they had different addresses at the time of his death & probate, for which she was not an executor.

Malcolm Fowles,

Osmund, it is still the custom in some Mediterranean countries to pass on family forenames. I know one Italian lady who has eight. She says she was the first child after a long gap and there was a queue of aunts and uncles waiting for her to arrive! She calls herself Teri, because it is short.

So I am not at all surprised by Francesco, given his Spanish mother. She herself could have been given her second name for a Francesco.

But we digress far from the orginal questions, which are fully answered. So I think I'll get started on an Echo of my own from one of GF's drawings.

I attach more thorough summary on the Sargents from the above: digression it may have been but, again, a very useful if only provisional one one on names not well covered and/or subject to confusions.

Could I also suggest that the original issue Malcolm raised has been resolved? Allowing slightly varying record of dimensions it does appear to be the Sickert 'Echo' (c.1931-2) of 'Margate in the Time of Turner' listed as untraced by Wendy Baron and based on the print after George Frederick (rather than 'Francesco') Sargent in the 'Leisure Hour' of 15 April 1952, as identified early on by Andrea.

That being so (?) it's time to ask the collection to hoist the results in, update the title and source, and for this to be signed off.

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I think Pieter is right and this is the moment to call time on this discussion. It has been a marvellous voyage of exploration into an aspect of Sickert’s work that remains under-appreciated. A big thank you to all involved.

Jade Audrey King,

The collection has been contacted about this recommendation.

Osmund Bullock,

Just to add two PDFs of the genealogical/biographical documents for the Sargents, father and son. One minor factual addition is that George Frederick senior's 1837 marriage was was at St Olave, Jewry, in the City of London. Sorry, the different sized files make it slightly annoying to read, as you may have to enlarge some pages (but not others) to read.

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Osmund Bullock,

Yes, I let that ride, Pieter, as I too felt GFFS's children were getting too far away from the central discussion. Email me if you want the details for posterity, I'm happy to clarify by checking births, etc - none, I think, became an artist. I still can't ascertain how many (if any) of the children his father was living with in 1861 might have been his; I'm not even sure the woman he was living with, Emma, was their mother - it's all very odd!

Thanks for the offer but I'll leave that for someone more interested in GFFS to pursue. It just seems worth summarizing unrecorded (or at least poorly recorded) lives as far as these discussions generate the facts to do so rather than leave a trail of disassembled information. 'Potted biogs' make for easier general reference -though what happens to a growing list of them is for future consideration.