Walter Sickert

Posted by Jenny Phillips, Jack the Ripper Tour Guide on Friday, November 13, 2020 Under: Jack the Ripper

Walter Sickert

According to the book Portrait of a Killer, Jack The Ripper Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell, Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper, the murderer who stalked the streets of Whitechapel in 1888.


Patricia Cornwell went to a great deal of trouble and expense trying to prove her theory. She even spent about £1million in the attempt. She bought Sickert’s desk and cut some of his paintings out of their frames, desperately searching for DNA from blood/skin shreds she hoped to find on the edges of the canvas or any evidence linking him to the murders. However, even if she found these what would it prove? We do not know who Jack the Ripper was so have no way of tracing any descendants to get DNA samples anyway.


She is not the first to mention Sickert as the Ripper because Jean Overton Fuller, in her 1990 book Sickert and the Ripper Crimes, had claimed that Sickert was Jack the Ripper. Prior to that, Stephen Knight, in his 1976 book Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution, claimed that Sickert had been forced to be an accomplice of the Ripper. Strangely neither of these two books is mentioned in Cornwell's book - she makes it look like she was the first person to discover this idea!


She bases her theory on the fact that Sickert painted a few paintings that could be construed as being about the Ripper’s crimes, for example ‘Jack the Ripper’s Bedroom’, ‘Ennui’ and the ‘Camden Town Murder’.


Jack the Ripper’s Bedroom in 1908 is based on a room where Sickert stayed in Mornington Crescent when Sickert founded, with other artists, the Camden Town Group of British painters, named from the district of London in which he lived.


Ennui shows a painting within a painting, and shows a man creepily coming up behind a woman with just a small part of his face visible.


The Camden Town Murder actually happened on 11 September 1907, Emily Dimmock, a prostitute cheating on her partner, was murdered in her home at Agar Grove (then St Paul's Road), Camden. After sexual intercourse, unlike the Ripper who did not have sex with his victims, the man had slit her throat open while she was asleep, then left in the morning, very similar to the Ripper murders except the intercourse! 


His paintings do not really show violence, but a sad thoughtfulness, explained by the fact that three of them were originally exhibited with completely different titles, one more appropriately being ‘What Shall We Do for the Rent?’, and the first in the series, ‘Summer Afternoon’ there is also a drawing mention entitled ‘He Killed his father in a Fight’. Tellingly, this is about patricide, not the murder of a woman by a man.


In the late 1880s he spent much of his time in France, especially in Dieppe, which he first visited in mid-1885, and where his mistress, and possibly his illegitimate son lived. However, Sickert took a keen interest in the crimes of Jack the Ripper and believed he had lodged in a room used by the notorious serial killer. He had been told this by his landlady, who suspected a previous lodger. Hence the Jack the ‘Jack Ripper’s Bedroom title’. Learn more: Jack the Ripper Tour

In : Jack the Ripper 

Tags: 1888  jack the ripper  whitechapel  mary kelly 
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