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Artist Walter Sickert in Highbury

Posted by London Guided Walks on Thursday, August 28, 2014 Under: Art

Walter Sickert, Victorian artist & actor

At 1 Highbury Place there is a Georgian building with the green plaque was once Walter Sickert’s school of painting and engraving.



Walter Richard Sickert was a late Victorian painter who came from an artistic family. He had a particular fondness for Islington which was a major presence at both ends of Sickert’s life, personally and professionally.


It was a 5yr old Walter Sickert who first visited Islington. In 1865 he attended St Mark’s Hospital, City Road, to undergo a life-saving operation.


Sickert lived and worked in Islington during the 1920s and 1930s. It was at this time he started to use photographs and illustrations as the basis of his work.


In 1927 Sickert and his third wife Therese Lessore bought a house in Quadrant Road. It was in the same year that he opened the last of his ateliers which also served as a school of painting. No models were employed and pupils were restricted to men only.


Therese Lessore was a talented painter of landscapes, interiors and circus scenes. Sickert very much enjoyed and admired her work. Together, they indulged their love of circuses, theatre and music hall both as entertainment and as subjects for painting. So why did Sickert not choose to encourage female artists through their education?


It was at 1 Highbury Place where Sickert painted The Raising of Lazarus, an initial full-size sketch having been drawn on the studio’s papered wall. In 1932, he gave the finished painting to be sold for the benefit of Sadler’s Wells Company. Sickert said that it was “given in memory of my perpetual admiration of Sam Phelps and my gratitude to Isabel Bateman of whose Sadler’s Wells Company I was myself a utility member.”



It was also in that year (1932) Sickert’s younger brother, Berard died. He too was an artist but was also an alcoholic. The Times obituary said that he ‘had talent and taste but [appeared] to have lacked perseverance to make the best use of his powers.’


In 1934 both Sickert and Therese Lessare left Islington for St-Peter’s-in-Thanet, Broadstairs, Kent before moving to Bathampton near Bath where he dies in 1942 and she three years later. They are buried together in the churchyard of St Nicholson Bathamton.

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