A circus in Islington: paintings by Thérèse Lessore

Price, Jason (2020) A circus in Islington: paintings by Thérèse Lessore. Early Popular Visual Culture. ISSN 1746-0654

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Abstract

In this paper I consider two nearly-forgotten artistic practices: that of British painter Thérèse Lessore (1884–1945) and the annual World’s Fair Circus held in Islington, London which she painted on several occasions in the 1920s and 30s. Despite Lessore’s significant output and the positive critical attention her artwork received during her lifetime, her career has been overshadowed by that of her second husband, the prominent British impressionist Walter Sickert. Both artists shared an interest in watching, drawing and painting popular entertainments, and even before they were married they frequently attended music halls, theatres and circuses together to gain inspiration for their work. From 1927 to 1934, the couple became regular attendees at the annual World’s Fair circus, which Lessore went on to depict in several paintings. Dating back to 1883, the World’s Fair, with its circus, animal menagerie, rides, and other novelties, brought the splendour of the summer fair into the Christmas period where it was sheltered from the winter elements by the glass and iron ceiling of the Royal Agricultural Hall. Despite its longevity and popularity, little has been written about the fair and the circuses it hosted. This paper begins the work of contextualising Lessore’s paintings and, in the process, recuperating a circus tradition that held significance for thousands of Londoners across the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Thérèse Lessore, Walter Sickert, circus, John Swallow, Royal Agricultural Hall
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2020 06:51
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2022 02:00
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/92442

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