Noctes Ambrosianae, 1906
Walter Richard Sickert
Danish, British, 1860
etching and aquatint on heavy wove paper
32.2 x 45 cm; plate: 21.8 x 25.4 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 4075)
This print is based on one of a number of paintings of London's Middlesex Music Hall (also known as "The Mogul Tavern") on Drury Lane that Sickert carried out in 1906. He was so taken by the popular entertainment presented there that he went every night. The title refers to a series of satirical dialogues first published in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine between 1822 and 1835, reprinted many times as a book throughout the nineteenth century. The dialogues poke fun at contemporary life and could easily have been transformed into comic theatre. In this print Sickert focuses on the music hall audience rather than on the eccentric performance that entertains them. He represents the cheaper gallery section above the stage where a boisterous yet devoted clientele are gathered. The equivalent theatrical audience in France was known as "les enfants du paradis" for their lofty, yet critically privileged position.