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Venetian Woman (Blackmail)Enlarge image

Venetian Woman (Blackmail), c. 1903-1904

Walter Richard Sickert
Danish, British, 1860 - 1942
pastel on cream wove paper, mounted on cardboard
67.3 x 54.5 cm
Purchased 1955
National Gallery of Canada (no. 6389)
© SODRAC

The subject of this mysterious work, Mrs. Barrett, who also features in several other portraits, including two in oil, was Sickert's charwoman. Sickert used pastel with dynamic, broad strokes across the roughly textured board. The inadvertent blending of superimposed slashes of colour belies the presence of isolating layers of fixative. The parallel hatchings of colour in the face suggest the influence of Sickert's friend Degas.

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