Saturday, 22 September 2012

Degas and Sickert do the Whitechapel murderer and the secret letter delivery service

With an expose from Renoir on the secret letter delivery service.

(Click on the pictures to see them in full if necessary.)

 Edgar Degas and Walter Sickert in1885. Note the aspiring mustache and general appearance in Walter.

Walter saw Edgar Degas regularly throughout the 1880s while he was Jimmy's ( Whistler's) apprentice. Recently this has been reported  to have caused friction between Walter and Jimmy due to the latter's much supposed outsize ego and excessive demands on his loyal disciples, the 'Lions of the Butterfly', but I can find no evidence of jealousy of Edgar Degas from Jimmy. On the contrary, there seems to be a great deal of shared  inspiration between the two mature masters who had the well documented ( and genuine) profound influence on Walter throughout the the 1880s which was to last his whole life. Walter and Edgar enjoyed a long and productive association following Walter's visist to the latter in France on behalf of 'Mon Maitre' ( Whistler).

When Walter first met the French Maitre in 1884 he was running ( yet another) errand on Whistlers part. When he attended the studio at Paris and they met, he and took his hat of politely, repeating that he was there in behalf of 'Mon Maitre'. When guided round the latest paintings, his top hat clasped to his chest, he looked as politely unimpressed as he could muster, making nonchalant observations such as 'I see,' 'Well', 'Yes'. and 'quite so'. .
Walter was extremely diligent in his respects to Jimmy in the early days, he never made a mistake. ' There is only Degas and myself', Whistler said. Not 'There is only me.'
Evidently Walter got out of Edgar Degas' studios and staggered down the stairs and collapsed with delight on the road outside, but he said nothing  to indictae his true response while there.
A number of Walter's secret and personal sketches that he kept all his life appear to have been carried out in Edgar's company as well as in Jimmy's.

Below, a pastel painting by Edgar Degas ostensibly featuring  'Mary Jeanette Stuart', who in Chelsea, Fitzrovia and Whitechapel often went by the name of 'Mary Jane Kelly' , often calling herself  'Marie Jeanette'. She would often call herself 'Marie Jeanette' when in Whitechapel, according to the faithful Whitechapel witnesses of the era, many of whom put it down to a 'fanciful whim'.She would 'put on airs', according to East End and Fitzrovia locals, and seemed to be 'hiding a respectable background'.

Degas titled this pastel  ' Reading a letter.'

Compare the female subject, seated at the table to the left of the painting, with the drawings of  the 'Mother' in the 'Mother and child' sketches by Jimmy Whistler ( here, in the post 'Whistler, Sickert , and the lost prince' ) And below:

 And as she appears in James McNeill Whistler's 'tete a tete in the garden'.( where she ostensibly appears with the very young Prince Eddy)... ..

..the young Stuart girl's profile's been slightly accentuated, and possibly satirized a tiny bit by Degas, given the context, but it's clearly her nonetheless, isn't it.

Looking at the relevant painting detail, at first one simply sees Marie Jeanette seated at a table,  her delicate arms on the table outstretched, and wonders where the letter is. 'Reading a letter', the pastel painting is titled.

Look though, at the man seated opposite marie Jeanette, smoking a cigar. His face is blanked out, and appears almost as if it's covered were a cloth- exactly as the express depiction of the 'Whitechapel murderer' appears in Walter Sickert's  paintings. ( see posts showing that figure and the corresponding analysis here 'Walter Sickert and revelations from Mornington', and also here, 'Found in London Lamplight' .)

See how the sinister looking man smoking a cigar holds a letter to his chest in Edgar Degas' painting. Edgar is apparently indicating that this man is the 'Whitechapel murderer' who has taken Prince Eddy's letter that was destined for Marie Jeanette from her, and that its him who's doing the reading. Just as Marie Jeanette indicated in her message left in the 'Standard' newspaper directly after the night of the 'double murders' ( when two of the world famous 'Whitechapel murders' were committed... one murdered woman was delivering a letter and the other murdered woman is recorded in the National Archive files as having been seen collecting a parcel from a man unidentified in said files moments before she died.... ) where she wrote in a message intended for 'ALBERT EDWARD' ..I have received neither letter nor parcel.'  See how in the pastel painting Marie Jeanette seems to be staring past the man at the table, almost as if in her world, he is not present. Ostensibly Edgar is suggesting that this letter stealing character has operated behind the scenes and taken the letter that had been intended for her. And this man, ostensibly, is 'The Whitechapel murderer'. ( In fact as we know there were several men, the murders were committed by Special Branch police and the colloquialism 'Jack the Ripper' is a misnomer.)

In Walter Sickert's secret and personal sketch collection there a very similar man depicted to the one that appears in Edgar Degas' paintings, apparently wandering about  Fitzrovia, among the dandy gents. Here, below. It's clearly the same man as the one depicted by Degas in the painting above. The exact way the face is obscured, the cigar, the exact shape of the hat, the stature. Observe the stature closely. That is a senior police officer going about secret business, n'est ce pas. Ostensibly Chief John Littlechild, Commissioner Anderson, or Melville. And I think we can conclude he's got a letter he's intercepted in tucked inside his coat there.

Detail example from a Walter Sickert oil painting below, from the painting 'Ethel coming down the stairs at Newington', ( a disguise of a title) by Walter Sickert ( the man creeps up behind Annie Chapman, he holds a letter in his right hand and a huge knife in his left, he wears what seems to be a dark bowler hat, and there's a cloth pulled down over his face. The hat is slightly different from the hat that appears in Edgar Degas' picture) : 

 The exquisite  record of the 1880s, this 'lost epoque' and the beautiful 'clue pictures' do not uniquely derive from Walter Sickert, nor even from Walter and Jimmy combined. Many  era impressionists and post impressionists recorded the events of Cleveland Street and Whitechapel for posterity. Not all depict Marie Jeanette herself with witness style exactitude. Perhaps some heard about her, and others saw her, or even saw it all ( as with walter Sickert  and James McNeill Whistler and apparently Edgar Degas.) 

Below, 'Prince' Pierre Auguste Renoir's' signature upon his beautiful  painting 'Woman reading a letter'. She is evidently wearing the white Stuart rose. 

Note the similarity of this lovely flower to the white Stuart rose in Walter Sickert's secret and personal sketch collection:  ( detail below from his sketch of the Wiley Hanoverian King being confronted by the Act of Succession).
--'s a different girl reading a letter, still by Renoir. ( Sketch only.) Is that a  white Stuart rose in her hat there.
 :-) The sketch has recently surfaced in France and been identified as Renoir's.

Below, 'The letter', by Pierre Auguste Renoir. No specific detail is known about this one, interestingly enough.  c 1880-1900, and the women are unidentified.

Below, detail from 'The letter', showing the women writing a letter on top a page of a newspaper, presumably one containing the 'personal columns'.

Of course the usage of  secret letter delivery services and the personal columns combined for lovers originally emanated from impressionist Paris. The letter that the women are writing in the painting above looks a little like sheet music; or perhaps the composition of a song for sheet music. Renoir has called the painting 'The letter.' ( And nothing else.)

'The letter' may be part of a 'series', notice that in the painting 'At the concert' or 'A box at the theatre' ( two entirely different places are evoked in the two different titles) the female subject is shown receiving what looks like sheet music and a bunch of brilliant flowers.

Beautiful, a series of paintings from Pierre Auguste Renoir with a hidden meaning related to a 'secret letter delivery service'... and a central painting with two separate titles; one, for the public in general,  and another that indicates the 'secret letter delivery service' and the nature of the case.

 The Royal Academy noted that the extensive deep dark red area behind the recipient of the pretty letter/sheet music represents a man who 'has been painted out by Renoir'. It's claimed that the painted out figure, stance and fashionable mustache,  is just visible behind the deep red paint ( the above colours are Renoir's precise colours.)

..below, 'Portrait of Mme Helleu reading a letter' by her husband Paul Cesar Helleu :

Below, 'Mmme Helleu reading a letter' by Singer Sargant.

Quite what Singer Sargant (who regularly frequented Cleveland Street Fitzrovia) is doing recording Mme Helleu reading a letter too, we won't enquire. I'm sure we don't need to.

Below, Helleu depicts a woman, ostensibly Mme Helleu again, and the white Stuart rose, while some sort of sympathetic lady cherub gazes adoringly on.

It's tempting to conclude (very) that Renoir is depicting Marie Jeanette Kelly (Stuart) and Annie Crook of Cleveland Street in his paintings above and that via Edgar Degas ( who is obviously in Jimmy and Walter's entire confidence about the events of Cleveland Street in the 1880s) he had sufficient evidence to do so, even if he did not witness all the events first hand in the same way as his English confreres. There is another 'letter' painting by Renoir:  'Woman with a letter' which seems very suggestible indeed of Marie Jeanette, and it is completely viable that a Stuart 'pauper princess' sitting on a doorstep in Whitechapel should have had vital appeal to the dite Prince of French impressionism.

Whose features are those, in the painting above? Have 'Stuart' features been specifically suggested in the rendition above, is there an element of expressly purposed idiosyncrasy?

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Lost Prince, another sketch surfaces, this time through Christies

Sketch of 'the lost prince', by Walter Sickert, inscribed 'IIII Jo' , ( 4 Jo). Apparently Prince Eddy's son, born in the 1880s. From Walter Sickert's secret and personal sketch collection, never before shown to the public until I printed the photos of him ( of said sketches) on my 2007 research blog. 

Below, this recently passed through Christies, ' Walter Sickert, sketch for Soldiers of King Albert the Ready'. It would seem that this also is 'Jo', whose death in WWI is described by a witness to Walter Sickert's life, Marjorie Lilly.

 It might be regular military wear around Jo's waist in the newly surfaced sketch, or it might be a sketch book there, girded to his waist. Its resemblance to a sketch book stands out from the other military wear in this way. In the top figure there, he's lain like a young child asleep, rather than a young man dead, isn't he, with his fulsome arm up by the side of his head. Evidently Walter struggled to say goodbye to this boy.

Marjorie Lilly, a witness to Walter Sickert's life upon whom experts rely, appears to have met the boy 'Jo' when he was in his early twenties, in 1914. She wrote the following story in her book 'Walter Sickert, the Painter and his Circle' about an experience in 1914:

...' A Special Protege of Sickert's was a boy called Joe; I never knew his surname or whether he possessed any talent for painting. An ex-pupil from the Westminster, he was now a soldier, waiting to be sent to France. There was something very moving about Joe with his round, candid face, his shock of fair hair, and his shy friendly smile; he had such a great capacity for happiness. Whenever he could get leave he would be present on Wednesday's with his girl; sitting side by side, they seldom spoke, and he had no eyes for anyone but the Master. He worshiped Sickert....It was enough for him just to be there, listening and watching, in an ecstasy of wonder. ...

..But Joe was sent to France and in a few weeks he was lying dead with a bullet through his brain.

Christine wrote to his girl and asked her to come and see us on Wednesdays, just as before. The girl answered by thanking Christine for the invitation but she was sure we'd understand, she didn't want to see Fitzroy Street or any of us, ever again.

After Sickert heard of the death of Joe he shut himself up for three days and would not open his door. When he emerged, he never spoke of Joe and no one dared to mention his name.'

Quotation taken from 'Sickert, The Painter and his Circle', Marjorie Lilly, Elek London, 1971.

Marjorie Lilly's book began to be distributed in wide circulation in 1971. Joseph Gorman, later 'Joseph Sickert' publicly emerged in 1972, correctly claiming that he was Walter Sickert's grandson via Walter's love affair with Annie Crook and their daughter Alice Margaret who was born to the couple in 1885. In 1969 Joseph Sickert had already visited the Lessores, and told them he thought he was Walter Sickert's grandson. In 1974 Joseph Sickert received a 'visit' from certain socialites who told him he was in fact the grandson of prince Eddy, which ostensibly he is not, and that Alice Margaret was the daughter of Prince Eddy and the child at the centre of the Whitechapel murders, which ostensibly she was not. Coincidence? Or were people covering up the lost prince Jo's existence?

Oh...... look, in the sketch above, which contains two practise runs of  dying'Jo' for the painting, the sketch drawn first, at the base of the sketch paper, has no bullet at the side of the head, but the one at the top, in which you can see the tenderness of the sketch, (the boy's lain down like a sleeping child) you can see a mark resembling a bullet wound atthe side of his brain.  In the painting rendition you can see the bullet wound on the right side of his head, and you can see the pool of blood above his forehead there.

Wendy Baron has gone into the painting a little, here. She concludes that Walter must have called the Belgian King Albert 'the ready', and remarks that Walter's acquaintance Robert Emmons (who decided that Walter got the idea for the painting from a newspaper) indicated that the painting perhaps extols Belgian heroism in respect of a particular incidence against German invaders of Liege. Emmons or Baron, that is a very minimalistic analysis of the painting isn't it. The Emmons/Baron statement could have been the official version of the painting at the time, in 1914. ( Of course, Walter Sickert, while WWI was going on, being a 'kind of novelist painter', according to his Camden Town and NEAC acquaintance, was so inspired by the little Belgian town of Liege, and felt such a peculiar attachment to it, having never been there in all his life, he couldn't wait to get paint to canvas!

You can see that the background on the right side of the painting is  a battlefield, and the background on the left  denotes another scenario, perhaps some sort of prison or workhouse in London. There are bars on the window shown, and there's a barrel beneath said window, and there are cobble stones, possibly Fitzrovia cobblestones on the ground. They look very much like the Charlotte Street paving stones that you can still see today.
Or could the scenario to the left of the painting represent wars that Ireland or Scotland had been involved in of times past? 
Perhaps the painting intentionally evokes both Fitzrovia ( Cleveland Street in particular) and wars of times past.
The background of the painting seems to be divided in two. As it is with Walter Sickert's painting of Florence Maybrick when she was in Cleveland Street, here- this painting 'L'Americaine' also is divided down the middle- the side on the right ostensibly suggests a plain 1880's background, whereas the side on the left denotes the room which Walter used to capture or reconstruct Cleveland Street of the 1880's,  when painting his paintings of 'darling Annie'. (His secret and personal sketches make reference to the Catholic infirmary and the workhouse.)

When the young Prince Eddy went to Cleveland Street, Fitzrovia, in the early 1880's, it was partly to study art and be introduced to the art world via James McNeill Whistler's circle, ( incorporating his art apprentice Walter Sickert) with whom his father 'Bertie' was already aquainted as is well known. Why has Walter painted 'Jo 'with a sketch book girded on as he lies dying....? Suggesting perhaps Jo's own sketches, or his father Prince Eddy's sketches; did 'Jo' take his sketches with him to war, or is it figurative, to suggest he was an artist at heart, even while dying? Even more figurative- does the girded sketch book in the painting contain the story of Jo's birth life and death as told by Walter Sickert?

 The Minstrel Boy to the war is gone
In the ranks of death you will find him.
His father's sword he hath girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him.
 ......( the song repeated the 'will ye neer come back again' theme:...)
 The Minstrel Boy will return we pray
When we hear the news we all will cheer it,
The minstrel boy will return one day,
Torn perhaps in body, not in spirit.
Then may he play on his harp in peace,
In a world such as Heaven intended,
For all the bitterness of man must cease,
And ev'ry battle must be ended.

* An interesting video below showing film reconstructs of wars that Ireleand has been involved in over the ages. 'The Minstral Boy'.

The outline of the current situation in respect of the libel campaign against me and the legal stuff (click).