Odds and quads

June 17, 2010

This "lay figure", or life-sized artist's model, belonged to Walter Sickert (1860-1942), the English Post-Impressionist whose images of drab female nudes and murdered prostitutes have led to claims that he was involved in the Jack the Ripper murders.

Sickert taught for most of his life; in later years at the Bath School of Art and Design, now part of Bath Spa University. The figure, which he used as a teaching aid, was donated to the university in 1942.

It was recently found in the library vault in a state of disrepair and has now been restored.

It is said that the model was once owned by William Hogarth. Although there is no real evidence for this claim, it certainly dates back to the 18th century and is made of stained wood with articulated joints.

It was given to Sickert by his brother-in-law, Major Frederick Lessore, who owned the Beaux Arts Gallery in London.

The figure helped to inspire a major painting, The Raising of Lazarus (1928-29). Sickert got a local undertaker to wrap the model in a shroud, while he posed as Christ and asked a model to act as Lazarus' sister. The first version was painted on to the wallpaper of Sickert's London studio.

Send suggestions for this series on the sector's treasures, oddities and curiosities to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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