Walter Sickert was born in Munich, the son of a Danish
artist. Between 1870 and 1871 he attended first University College School, and then King's College School where he remained until he was 18. Though he at first intended to be an actor, he soon turned to the study of art in 1881, attending the Slade Art School. In 1883 he travelled to Paris
and met with Edgar Degas, who heavily influenced Sickert's work and with whom Sickert would remain friends until Degas' death. Sickert soon developed his own brand of Impressionism, utilizing sombre colours and themes that would characterize his later work. In these early years he spent most of his time living in France
, often with his mistress and, allegedly, his illegitimate son. 1884 was the date of his first show. In 1885 he was married, though by 1899 he was divorced, and spent much of his time in Dieppe and Venice
. He was living in Whitechapel
at the time of the Jack the Ripper
murders, and was convinced that he lived in the room once let by the Ripper, as had been suggested to him by his landlady. He created a painting, "Jack the Ripper's Bedroom
", because of this. This macabre theme would continue on in his later works; after the 1907 murder of prostitute Emily Dimmick, Sickert created a painting "The Camden Town Murder
" based on the event. This painting brought about a great deal of controversy, and ensured attention would be focused on Sickert's later works.
In 1911 he and several other British painters formed the Camden Town Group, which had been meeting informally since 1905, when Sickert had first returned to London
. In 1924 he became an associate of the Royal Academy, and ten years later an academician. Shortly afterwards, however, he resigned the position because of the views of the president on the works of Epstein. In 1941 he was given a solo show of his work at the National Gallery in London. He died a year later on January 22nd, 1942 at the age of 81.
Jack the Ripper?
Sickert was first proposed as a suspect in the 1970s, where he was alleged to have been in some way complicit with the the so-called "royal conspiracy". In Jean Overtun Fuller's 1990 book Sickert and the Ripper Crimes
was the first to suggest that Sickert himself was the killer. Patricia Cornwell suggested in her 2002 book Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper- Case Closed
that she had established a DNA link between Sickert and one of the Ripper letters. This claim has never been conclusively substantiated, and most people view the Sickert theory as relatively weak. There is no solid evidence that ties him to the crime, and he was not considered as a suspect by contemporary investigations. As well, there is some evidence that suggests he was in France at the time of the murders