Charles Robinson SYKES
(Redcar 1875 - Berkshire 1950)
A Woman Stepping into a Bath
369 x 510 mm. (14 1/2 x 20 1/8 in.)
Building on his success of his work for Rolls-Royce, Sykes was asked to design the gold and silver cups for Ascot, and also received other commissions for ceremonial gold and silverware, as well as numerous trophies and medals. (Several of his designs for these projects are today in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.) Deemed unfit for service during the First World War, Sykes worked in a factory making acid, where he nearly lost his life in an explosion caused by an industrial accident. After the war he began to focus more on the commercial projects, with his work in this field signed with the pseudonym ‘Rilette’. (The name ‘Rilette’ stems from the artist’s surname Sykes, or sike; a Scottish word meaning a little brook whose flow creates a shallow channel, or rill.) Over the next few years he produced, as ‘Rilette’, numerous fashion drawings which filled the pages of the Sunday Dispatch and the monthly covers of the magazine Woman. Sykes also designed a series of travel posters for the LNER railway and painted a number of landscapes, although, as his grandson was later to recall, he apparently disliked the countryside. In 1951, the year after the artist’s death, a memorial exhibition of Sykes’s work, including over one hundred bronzes, drawings, watercolours, pastels and oil paintings, was held at the Walker Galleries in London.