Sickert, Walter

BORN 31 May 1860, München, Bayern - DIED 22 Jan 1942, Bathampton, Somerset
BIRTH NAME Sickert, Walter Richard
GRAVE LOCATION Bathampton (near Bath), Somerset: St. Nicholas' Church, Mill Lane (churchyard)

Son of an English mother and a Danish father. His father worked as an artist for a comic journal in Germany. In 1868 the family settled in England. After a short career as an actor he took painting lessons at the Slade School of Art in London in 1881. In 1882 he became J.M. Whistler's assistant and in 1883 he transported Whistler's "Portrait of the Artist's Mother" to Paris where it was exhibited at the Salon.

In Paris he met Degas. Their friendship lasted until Degas' death in 1917. When he first exhibited himself in 1884 he was regarded as a pupil of Whistler. In 1885 he married Ellen Cobden, the daughter of the liberal politician Richard Cobden. In 1893 he opened an art school in London. His friendship with Whistler ended after a court case.

He divorced his wife in 1899 and lived in Dieppe, Paris and Venice for six years. After his return in London in 1905 he had a studio in Soho and lived in Camden Town. He mostly painted music hall scenes and scenes from the life around him. In 1911 he was the founder of the Camden Town Group, later known as the London Group. Lucien Pissarro and Augustus John were among the other founding members. He was married to Christine Drummond Angus from 1911 until her death in 1920. In 1926 he married the painter Thérèse Lessore. In 1927 he painted an informal portrait of Sir Winston Churchill.

In 1934 Sickert he became a member of the Royal Academy but shortly afterwards he left the academy because its president openly disliked the work of Jacob Epstein who was associated with the London Group. In 1941 an exhibition of his work was held at the National Gallery.

Sickert was interested in the Jack the Ripper case and at one point in time he was told by his landlady that she had suspected a former lodger of being the famous murderer. His painting "Jack the Ripper's Bedroom" is in the Manchester City Art Gallery. Recently several books were published in which it was claimed that Sickert was Jack the Ripper himself or helped him at the time of the murders. Among them was Patricia Cornwell who bought 31 of his paintings. It was believed that she destroyed one of the paintings to get Sickert's DNA. She denied this, but claimed that she could prove that both Sickert's DNA and the DNA on a letter attributed to Jack the Ripper matched only one percent of the population.

• Wife: Lessore, Therèse (1926-1942)

Related persons
• was a friend of Degas, Edgar
• was a friend of Rayner, Hewitt Henry
• worked for Whistler, James MacNeill


The grave of Walter Sickert at St. Nicholas' Churchyard, Bathampton.
Picture by Androom (21 Aug 2013)


"The Bust of Tom Sayers; a Self-portrait".
(Oxford: Ashmolean Museum at Oxford University)

Siddal, Elizabeth

Published: 21 Sep 2013
Last update: 29 Mar 2022