Walter Sickert (1860-1942)
From Literary Anecdotes About 19th Century Authors Born After 1829

I RECALL later evenings, too, and one night at dinner in my present house in Chelsea, after we had left Swan Walk, comes back to me particularly.... Those present were Sickert, Arnold Bennett, Frank Swinnerton, Massingham, the editor of the Nation, Percy Wyndham Lewis, William Walton, my brother, and myself.... Sickert was in a peculiarly brilliant mood, led the evening and was audacious as a matador. I do not think that Lewis enjoyed this scintillation. (It did not seem to him to come from the right quarter.) Even Arnold, an old friend of Sickert's, seemed a trifle dazed. Towards the end of dinner a controversy arose, and Sickert just danced round the rest of us.... Sickert then lit a cigar and, nipping round the corner of the table, pressed one upon Lewis, with the words,

`I give you this cigar because I so greatly admire your writings.'

Lewis switched upon him as dazzling a smile as he had had time to prepare, but before it was really quite ready, and he had succeeded in substituting this genial grin for his more usual expression, Sickert planted the goad by adding,

`If I liked your paintings, I'd give you a bigger one!'

From Sir Osbert Sitwell, Noble Essences, p. 196.

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