OIL PAINTING: La Hollandaise, 1906
The nude in La Hollandaise sprawls on a cheap iron bed and rumpled sheets, her foreshortened position emphasizing the solidity of her figure. Painted economically and fluidly, with a restricted palette, the model's face falls in shadow. But Sickert has curiously dashed in her facial features, with deliberately broad brushstrokes so that her identity, her individuality, is obliterated. It gives a harsh, brutal quality to the painting. Sickert's title may derive from Gobseck by Balzac, a writer he greatly admired, in which the prostitute Sara Gobseck is known as 'la belle Hollandaise'. If so, this might suggest the picture's model was a prostitute, or else Dutch. In common with so many of Sickert's pictures from this time a mirror adds recession to the scene, and he has positioned the bed near a window, so that light floods in from the left. In Sickert's article 'The Naked and the Nude' which he published in the New Age in 1910 he concluded that 'Perhaps the chief pleasure in the aspect of a nude is that it is in the nature of a gleam of light and warmth and life. And to appear thus, it should be set in surroundings of drapery or other contrasting surfaces' (New Age, 21 July 1910; Robins 2000). Sickert's article was formed around an argument for art students to be taught to draw more often from clothed models which would be more relevant to modern subjects.