The Old Bedford: Cupid in the GalleryEnlarge image

The Old Bedford: Cupid in the Gallery, c. 1890

Walter Richard Sickert
Danish, British, 1860 - 1942
oil on canvas
126.5 x 77.5 cm
Gift of the Massey Collection of English Painting, 1946
National Gallery of Canada (no. 4810)

Born in Munich to Danish parents, Walter Sickert emigrated with his family to London in 1868, where he would become an influential disciple of French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Among his frequent subjects of everyday life in London were the music halls, which attracted a boisterous working-class audience. The patrons of these establishments were described as "a tough lot, and if the performance didn't catch on the wretched artist was lucky if over ripe tomatoes were all he had thrown at him." The Bedford Music Hall was built in 1861 in the district known as Camden Town, near Regent's Park.


by 1903 –
Lucien Simon (1861–1945)(?) [1]

Carfax Gallery (Arthur B. Clifton, 1862–1932), London, UK [2]

by 1933
Madeline Clifton, née Knox (Mrs. Arthur B. Clifton (b.1890), London, by inheritance [3]

Arthur Tooth & Sons Ltd., London, UK [4]

1939/04 – 1946/10/01
The Rt. Hon. Charles Vincent Massey (1887–1967), Toronto, Canada, purchased from Tooth & Sons [5]

1946/10/01 –
National Gallery of Canada, given by the Massey Foundation (The Massey Collection of English Painting) [6]


The main source for this provenance is Wendy Baron's publication “Sickert: Paintings and Drawings.” New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006, cat. no. 278. Exceptions and other supporting documents are noted.

[1] According to Wendy Baron, the work was possibly included in the exhibition “Société Nouvelle des Peintres et Sculpteurs” in February 1903 at Durand-Ruel. The catalogue listn the painter Lucien Simon as the lender.

[2] Arthur Clifton was a lawyer, and known as Oscar Wilde's solicitor, before he opened the Carfax Gallery in 1898.

[3] Madeline Clifton was Sickert's assistant at his art school at Rowlandson House in London before marrying Arthur Clifton. The painting was included in an exhibition at Agnew's in 1933 [“Retrospective Exhibition of Pictures by W.R. Sickert.” cat. no. 3 as “The New Bedford”]. The catalogue mentions Ms. Clifton as the owner.

[4] See note [5]. It is not clear if London art dealer Tooth & Sons owned the painting or if they were acting as an agent for Ms. Clifton.

[5] In a letter dated April 3rd 1939, Sir Vincent Massey, the 18th Governor General of Canada, informs S.G. Randall of the National Trust Company that he has just purchased the painting from Tooth & Sons, London, for £500. He notes that the Massey Foundation acquired the painting with the intention to present it to the National Gallery of Canada [Massey Family records, University of Toronto Archives, Ref. B1987-0082 1250 (04)].

[6] Accession Log [NGC curatorial file].

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