Published  14/08/2002

Sickert’s Secret

A painting by Walter Sickert, entitled merely ‘One of Madame Villain’s Sons’ has been bought from Vanessa Bell’s family by the Charleston House Trust, for 24,000, dependent upon a 14,000 grant from the Art Fund charity. We are quite certain that the child was actually Maurice Villain, Sickert’s illegitimate son with Madame Villain. The portrait is a study in abject misery. Madame Villain had been Sickert’s Dieppe landlady, known as La Belle Rousse with her dramatic red hair. The portrait is presumed to have been painted around l904. One wonders about the future life of the child, or whether in the absence of urgent psychotherapy (Dieppe was not Vienna) the individual was somehow lost track of.

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