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'.

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