Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Walter Sickert and the Theatre of War

Andrew Graham-Dixon tells the story of artist Walter Sickert, who understood that the theatre of war was not confined to the trenches.

In the years preceding 1914, David Bomberg, Walter Sickert and Paul Nash set out to paint a new world, but, as the century unfolded, found themselves working in the rubble.

Walter Sickert's early career as an actor is long forgotten and he's now remembered for his art. But he never left the stage behind. Always shape-shifting between roles, Sickert's appearance never stayed still. And his art, too, was in perpetual transformation. Dazzlingly original, deeply unsettling, poised on the brink of violence. For most, proof that Sickert is the godfather of modern British art, but for a few at the fringes, evidence he's Jack the Ripper.

But Sickert was no perpetrator, just an unflinching witness, notably, to the cataclysm of World War One. Too old to fight in Flanders, Sickert painted edgy, compelling, subtle pictures of those who'd been left behind. He painted people trying to get on with lives that were being shattered by the conflict. Almost alone of his generation, Sickert truly understood that the theatre of war was not confined to the trenches.

1 hour


Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:08

    Dustin O’Halloran

    We Move Lightly

  • 00:11

    Nils Frahm

    Said & Done

  • 00:18

    Nils Frahm


  • 00:52

    Aphex Twin



Role Contributor
Presenter Andrew Graham-Dixon
Producer Phil Cairney
Director Phil Cairney
Series Producer Silvia Sacco