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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Ripper Discussions > Suspects > Sickert, Walter

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  #21  
Old 04-23-2013, 08:52 AM
Phil H Phil H is offline
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Yes Stewart, they do, I think.

Our Vincent Van Gogh advocate appears to have got himself a radio interview!! (See that thread).

You see you WASTED all those years of research, and poring over old records and archives, turning the pages of all those old newspapers, walking the ground.... amassing that incredible library of yours.

All you really needed to do was buy a copy of Ms Cornwell's opus and read around in secondary sources and you'ld have cracked the case in a year. Simple.

We are the crazy ones... it seems. Accuracy, scolarship, use of sources, logic, reason and a feel for the period count for nothing these days. It's the IDEA that counts.

Please please please continue to keep our feet rooted to rationality and historical method.

Phil
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  #22  
Old 04-23-2013, 07:00 PM
RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DRoy View Post
Even if the only book you ever read was Cornwell's; you still shouldn't be able to arrive at that conclusion!
+1

BTW: for people who have read more than one book, did anyone else notive that she makes a really mendacious argument for Sickert having seen Nichols in situ?

She reprints this photo of Nichols



which we've all seen a hundred times. It has the rip on the side, so it's the exact same photo, not something different that looks really similar, or a reprint from the same negative. But in her book it's a little blurry. You can't tell, from the photo in Cornwell's book, as you plainly can here, that Nichols eyes are slightly open.

This is important, because Sickert has a painting of a woman in somewhat the same position as Nichols, vaguely resembling Nichols, but with her eyes closed, who Cornwell argues is Nichols, that is, Nichols is the model, and that Sickert must have seen her in situ because he correctly (sic) pictures her eyes closed.

That destroyed any faith I might have had in any other conclusions in the book-- albeit, I agree that Sickert probably did write a hoax letter, which means nothing, especially as the police even at the time believed all the letters save for the Lusk letter were hoaxes (and, IIRC, they were divided even on the Lusk letter).

In the course of investigating, Cornwell purchased a lot of Sickert paintings, and one suspects that the more people who believe him guilty of the Ripper killings, the more the paintings will be worth, especially in the US, where, few people had heard of Sickert before the book came out. Even without believing him to be the Ripper, though, just knowing that he was a bit morbid sparked an interest in his work, which is weird, but probably predictable. Both John Wayne Gacy's and Dr. Jack Kevorkian's paintings sell for a lot of money, and they aren't even very good.
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  #23  
Old 04-24-2013, 03:08 AM
DRoy DRoy is offline
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RivkaChaya,

I'll give this to Cornwell, she knows how to write and she's pretty good at making people believe she's right. Whether Sickert even wrote any of the letters is irrelevant (as you've stated).

He may have been an odd fellow and he may have been a little infatuated with the Whitechapel murders but what does that make any of us? If I could draw i'm sure i'd draw Jack. I already have a tattoo. Does that make me Jack? Does that make Jane Coram The Ripper since she has does some outstanding paintings while also contributing a huge amount of knowledge and input to the mystery? The answer is no. Sickert was enthralled as we all are. People that suggest otherwise are just plain ignorant in my opinion.

Why do we even respond to these threads?

DRoy
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  #24  
Old 04-24-2013, 06:04 AM
Graham Graham is offline
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Quote:
Why do we even respond to these threads?
Why do we indeed? I'm afraid we all like an occasional touch of oddball sensationalism, and the people who seriously propose 'celebrity' suspects provide it. Even when they adduce no concrete evidence whatsoever, we still read their posts like an addiction. Sooner or later they'll get fed up with their drivel and pack it in. Why they do it I simply do not know.

A long time ago I jokingly suggested that W S Gilbert (of Gilbert & Sullivan fame) would make an excellent candidate for The Ripper, as he was somewhat misogynistic and a bit of a loner known to have walked the streets of London from time to time; and would you believe I received 2 PM's from people who seriously wanted to know more about my fascinating 'theory'? Maybe I should have made more of it, and probably I'd have had my book published by now.

Graham
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  #25  
Old 04-24-2013, 06:16 AM
Limehouse Limehouse is offline
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Considering Sickert came to art and painting relatively late in life, his out put was large. Only one of his paintings for sure concerned the JtR case, that that was 'Jack the Ripper's Bedroom' and even that was a re-naming of the painting. 'The Camden Town Murder' or 'What Shall We Do For The Rent?' series was concerned with a different case. Much of Sickert's other work was completely different and not morbid at all. As I have previously stated, Sickert's work was influenced by Impressionism with a strong narrative theme. This accounts for his subject matter.

Think of it this way. How did the journalists of the time deal with these murders? They wrote about them in great detail. They included sketches of the victims and witnesses. They described the scenes of the murders in vivid detail. They interviewed and quoted people who knew the victims. The papers were obsessed with the murders.

Why wouldn't an artist who is concerned with the experience of life express this is some of his work? He is simply reflecting the life he sees around him as it is lived. In Sickert's work, we see life reflected in art. In Sickert's work, it was not his role just to reflect images, but to reflect the life lived through those images.

The work of Sickert and other artists is being corrupted by individuals who are ignorant about art and the purpose of art.
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  #26  
Old 04-24-2013, 07:35 AM
Phil H Phil H is offline
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A long time ago I jokingly suggested that W S Gilbert (of Gilbert & Sullivan fame) would make an excellent candidate for The Ripper, as he was somewhat misogynistic and a bit of a loner known to have walked the streets of London from time to time; and would you believe I received 2 PM's from people who seriously wanted to know more about my fascinating 'theory'? Maybe I should have made more of it, and probably I'd have had my book published by now.

I think it is a reflection of the power of the iconic image of JtR and the surviving strength of the top hat, cape and Gladstone bag image.

People hear or read a little about these unsolved crimes and seem to want the underlying truth to be a shock - that the man capable of such bloody savagery was someone known and famous.

There is, I think, also a strong thread of the Agatha Christie approach to crime that runs through many newcomers to this field of study. They believe that there are "clues" which they - acting like Poirot or Miss Marple - can piece together to "solve" the crime.

Surely that is why so many argue so strongly for the letters - or some of them - to be genuine. They are potential "clues" - without them you have to dig into the facts and files (boring stuff).

There is also I think an immaturity of approach that grasps what glitters and rejects the mundane. How much more does a Van Gogh or a Sickert glisten and gleam and one can make money publishing books. Arguing for Sickert is even more immature, since Cornwell made such a splash (and lavished such huge expenditure on her research), that everything subsequent on Walter must surely be derivative from her. Cornwell, of course, was not the first to speculate about Walter - but Florence Pash and Jean Overton Fuller will hardly be known to the likes of our band-wagon jumping friends.

At last van Gogh was more original, even if misguided. But I suspect that one could as easily finger Toulouse Lautrec or Clemencau if one wanted to waste ones time. the abdominal cuts are because that is as far as Lautrec could reach - sort of thing. He escaped under a woman's skirts, between her legs.

Famous people are also much more easy to research.

Finally, I blame Knight for much of this. His "royal conspiracy" theory remains probably the best known "solution" to the JtR enigma, not least from the films. It doesn't matter that Knight's ideas were exploded long ago. Inexperienced youngsters attracted to the subject by having seen "From Hell" or "Murder by Decree" probably come "certain" that the murderer was someone well known, and that chimes with the celebrity culture of today.

Just my thoughts on your highly pertinent reflections,

Phil
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  #27  
Old 04-24-2013, 07:53 AM
Graham Graham is offline
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Quote:
Finally, I blame Knight for much of this. His "royal conspiracy" theory remains probably the best known "solution" to the JtR enigma, not least from the films. It doesn't matter that Knight's ideas were exploded long ago. Inexperienced youngsters attracted to the subject by having seen "From Hell" or "Murder by Decree" probably come "certain" that the murderer was someone well known, and that chimes with the celebrity culture of today.
Like a lot of interested people of my generation, the first 'serious' book on the Whitechapel Murders that I read was Dan Farson's "Jack The Ripper", the first suggestion (as far as I'm aware) that Druitt was the Ripper. A good book, still readable, but IMHO not quite so 'convincing' as Knight's theory, which I actually wanted to believe, because it had everything! And you're right - even though the whole Royal thing has been thoroughly exposed, it's still the 'solution' most people would refer to in a discussion on the Ripper. It all seemed so well-researched, and so well-written, that one had to believe it. I always thought it was a terrific shame and disappointment when it was exposed as being based upon a hoax. Not so the modern 'celebrity suspects', not one of which I would accept for an instant, based upon the generally poor research and flawed arguments.

Graham
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  #28  
Old 04-24-2013, 08:56 AM
Phil H Phil H is offline
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I well recall reading Knight's book on the day of publication in 1976 (the year of the well-remembered long hot summer in the UK) - I was visiting friends and was VERY rude (I couldn't put the book down!!).

I'd watched Barlow and Watt a year or so earlier and this seemed to be the icing on the cake.

At first I scoffed (my initial instincts were right!!) but I read through much of th night and next morning I was singing the praises of the book. This was IT - corroboration from Hogarth, the "Protocols". I was only vaguely aware of who Anderson was at that time, and had never heard of Sickert except as part of the BBC series.

I had been a Druittist but this converted me - for a while. The whole post-Watergate world seemed to reek of conspiracy. I was up to my neck in JFK assassination theories....

But it was a pack of lies.

Now, we have Casebook and discussion fora, and we can gain an expert assessment of a new theory quickly. Recent research is quickly to hand through the publications. Fallacies and erroneous research can be challenged quickly.

Then, unless you could afford to be a researcher yourself, you had to await the publication of the next Ripper book (could be a year or more) to see any commentary on the previous theory (it seemed all JtR books systematically rubbished all previous theories in those days as part of their structure). When I found that Knight had left out chunks of research that did not fit with his theory; that he had been told he had the wrong woman for Crook etc etc - I think that was when I began to move away from having any specific theory and just studying the case. A few years later the whole field moved into higher gear with real historians rather than journalists taking the helm.

But some people still like a theory to cherish or focus on. Some like to seize on to a new idea and make it their own. I think that is what we are seeing here, and in the example of WS Gilbert.

I think, interestingly and in conclusion, that the 1st edition of the Mammoth Book of JtR included a chapter arguing for a suspect, seeming genuine and then revealing it was a hoax. As I recall that was strongly attacked, yet it made an excellent point very well - almost any person can be made a convincing suspect if you are selective, argue cleverly and resort to special logic....

Phil
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  #29  
Old 04-24-2013, 11:34 AM
Limehouse Limehouse is offline
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Both excellent posts, Graham and Phil.
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  #30  
Old 04-24-2013, 12:20 PM
Albert Albert is offline
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I totally agree with Limehouse - excellent posts
Cheers
Albert
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