Sunday, 11 November 2007

Walter Sickert and Catharine Eddowes

The artist Walter Sickert had a great deal of time for Catharine 'Kitty' Eddowes, aka Catharine Kelly, whose background , involvements and Whitechapel story he evidently knew. She's the principal subject in a series of pictures that demonstrate aspects to her personality, her life choices, her habits and hobbies, her situations, her terrible death.

Catharine 'Kitty' Eddowes spent the best part of her youth devoted to an Irish Sergeant of the 18th Regiment, 'Thomas Conway', whom she met in 1861, when she was nineteen years old. She loved him, at least to the extent of leaving kith and kin for him and decorating her arm with a tattoo in his name, 'T C'. The census records show a sharp change in Catharine Eddowes' destiny around 1861; she leaves her Aunt Elisabeth's and William Eddowes' home in Wolverhampton and doesn't return until late 1862, where she's recorded living with her Uncle Thomas Eddowes at the Brick Hill, Baggot Street, Birmingham.

Catharine 'Kitty' Eddowes, by her daughter Annie Phillip's Inquest account, seems to have been away in Dublin, Ireland, where she went gadding with the 18th regiment and met her long term partner Thomas. By Annie Phillips, Catharine's daughter, ( born 1863 ' Catharine Anne Conway') , on her father Thomas Conway: " ...."I have never seen the marriage lines though she always told me she was married"..."my mother told me he was in the Royal 18th Irish"....."he had been a pensioner since I was eight years old. I am now twenty three"...

We can ony speculate as to how little 'Catharine Anne' came about in 1863 and why Kitty so quickly came to a secluded place in Birmingham in 1862. It seems she fell quickly pregnant with a girl, and came home to England to give birth. Her Birmingham family however appeared not to have been sympathetic, unless Catharine was simply being her usual secret keeping self: 'Catharine Anne Conway' was born on 18th April 1863 at Yarmouth workhouse, Norfolk. Her mother registered her on the 18th May, stating the workhouse as her address.

There is no evidence either of a marriage certificate inscribed with the names Eddowes and Conway, nor of an absentee soldier's presence in her life until 1873, when Thomas Conway was discharged, whereupon she (promptly) gave birth to a second son, 'Alfred George Conway'. (Catharine Eddowes' first son, Thomas, was born in 1868, when Catharine 'Kitty' was, for a brief period, suddenly living in clean and comfortable lodgings at Westminster, in London. That boy lived, and his descendants tell their story, but there is no record of his birth).

By Catharine Eddowes' daughter Annie Phillip's 1888 account, Thomas Conway 'left the deceased (Eddowes) between 7 & 8 years ago purely on account of her drinking'. Conway, Sergeant in the 18th Royal Irish was not himself discharged until 1873; he and Catharine Eddowes were together after his eventual discharge for seven short years. They split in 1880.

The 'Black Country Bugle' printed two articles at the time of Eddowes' death suggesting that Catharine Eddowes, or 'Kate Conway, as she had liked to be known and Thomas (to whom the Bugle incorrectly refers to as 'Conway Quinn') had been dab hands at making a living 'hawking' books, peddling books on street corners, up and down the streets and at public open air meetings of various kinds; including at public executions, where people 'were willing to pay a penny to obtain a momento of such an occasion' . ( Black Country Bugle, October 1888). 'Conway Quinn', the Bugle insist, ' produced impromptu ballads about any event which captured the public interest, and made a fair living from rhyming talents which, he considered, would be better appreciated in London, hence their eventual move to the Metropolis. 'According to the Bugle: ' On one such trip to Stafford she experienced the trauma of seeing her own cousin, Christopher Robinson hanged for the murder of his Sweetheart at Wolverhampton- and then helping to sell copies to the assembled crowd, estimated to number around four hundred persons 'On the Fatal Morning'. ' ( Black Country Bugle, October 1888). (The newspaper quote 'On the Fatal Morning' infers the title of the Music Hall song Catharine 'Kitty' Eddowes' and her beau composed).

It seems to have been during the late 1860's that Catharine Eddowes became a dab hand at composing rebel ditties . By the Bugle, 'her quick wit and repartee had played a major part in selling so many copies of her poetical companion's ballad at Stafford and he rewarded her with the price of a flowery hat form Wooley's in Bilston High Street, whilst he waited in The Market Tavern for Sam Sellman to 'run off' the extra order which would be their regular pitch on the following Monday.' The Black Country Bugle suggests the couple had 'returned form Stafford in style...leaving the coach at Wolverhampton the Jubilant poet hired a donkey cart and set off with Catharine for Bilston where he ordered another 400 copies from Sam Selman, the Church Street Printer.

Below, Sickert's sketched Catharine ' Kitty' Eddowes at her at the piano, composing one of her ballads (no doubt). He's recorded Catharine in one of her rather lovely hats.

He calls the little picture 'Kitty K.'

KittyK., The Large Plate'. Etching, signed in pencil Sickert, lower right, printed in black ink on laid paper in the second (final) state. 17.3 x 12.3 cms. One of two sketches Walter Sickert drew of one 'KittyK', who we recognise as Catharine 'Kitty' Eddowes, in her twenties and then in her early forties. This one depicts her in her mid to late twenties. Etched in the studio at Red Lion Square. The Fine Art Society PLC at New York comments 'although it was lettered by an engraver, the artist had neither space for the title nor was a publisher given'. ( Pages Torn From the Book of Life, 2002). Kitty K was not included in the series published by the Carfax Art Gallery.

According to Walter Sickert's art student and good friend Marjorie Lilly, who met him in 1913:

' Sickert lavished royal hospitality on his classes at the Whistler. I remember one exquisite colour symphony in bronze, apricot and purple; a negro posed against the contra-jour lighting that he loved, with his grand piano reflected in the dusky glass. How looking glasses recall Sickert's work; those expressions of colour, liquid shapes floating like water plants in the flux of the tides, fleeing yet vivid, piquant yet ephemeral. Sometimes, when he was contemplating one of those compositions that he had built up for his students it reminded him of Tom O 'Shanter:

Or like the snowfalls in the river

One moment white, then melt forever

Or like the rainbow’s lovely form

Evanishing amid the storm.

The piano had a history which we were never told. One day when the permanent financial crisis was particularly acute, Christine suggested that he might be persuaded to sell it. But we soon found out that whatever sacrifices were necessary, he would never part with the piano. It enshrined some precious memory he would never disclose. However, it proved most useful for students when they were composing paintings; it supplied an interesting background with its sweeping curves and angles, instead of the ‘buff vacancy’ which surrounds the object in so many art schools, even to this day.' M.Lilly (' Sickert, The Painter and His Circle' 1971, on period c. 1916.)

References exist to a musical disposition in Catherine 'Kitty' Eddowes that tend to suggest she was probably the composer responsible for the ballads that played so harmoniously upon the public nerve wherever the talented lady and her Irish Sergeant went. Thomas Eddowes, ( born 9th December 1844 at Bermondsley), her little brother by two years, was discharged from the 45th regiment in 1861 on medical grounds. The report reads ' This boy was enlisted a year and a half since to be trained as a musician, but from the delicacy of his chest he has been exempted from playing a wind instrument. He has been frequently in hospital under the charge of "Asthenia" and it is not likely he will ever make an effective soldier....'

Walter Sickert painted one of his pianos circa 1916: ' No. 8 Fitzroy Street' . See below right. Property of the Tate Gallery, London, bequeathed by Lady Cavendish Bentnick, 1940, just after Sickert's death. This one he kept in the hallway beneath the stairwell at the Frith , 8 Fitzroy Street . (His studios at the Whistler). It seems to have been an unusual 'Square Grand' . If you look closely you can scarcely tell whether we can see him withdrawing a piece of paper from a desk drawer of whether he is, in fact, 'tinkering away at a piano'. His antique piano probably dates c 1850. It's clear ( as we'll see) that Walter kept a Grand Piano, the one mentioned by Marjorie Lilly. Probably at Red Lion Street as opposed to the Frith at no. 8 Fitzroy Street , which was so very close to the anarchist school where the rebels used to meet 1880-1888.

For the Eddowes family, musical ability was a fallback in troubled situations, a wellspring of comfort when times were hard, when the worst came to the worst. An artistic talent one exercised by default, to maintain one's stability. By the Inquest evidence given by Constable George Henry Hutt, Custody duty Offficer, who took over supervising the detained at 10.00 on the night Catharine 'Kitty' Eddowes was murdered, 31st September 1888: ...' he visited the woman in the cell about every half hour from five minutes to 10.00 o'Clock until 1.00 o'Clock. She was sleeping when he took over the prisoners. At a quarter past 12 o'clock she was awake, and singing a little song to herself. At half past twelve, when he went to her, she asked when she was going to be let out, and he replied.."when you are capable of taking care of yourself." She replied that she was capable of taking care of herself then.'....

Below: 'Mrs Barrett', (no secondary title). 50.8 x 41.9 cm: signed bottom left, 'Sickert'. First exhibited 1928, London, Saville Gallery, no. 31. Last at Christies, 1992. Privately owned.

'Mrs Barrett' is the introductory painting in the well loved and perhaps most famous series. Perhaps the most revelatory and exciting in the 'connected series' collections in respect of the Whitechapel girls, given there is so much focused portraiture available of her. The series consistently depicts the same woman, painted from many different perspectives, at different stages in her life. Note her lovely great celebration of a hat, which appears on and off throughout the series, unless she's wearing an even better, more flamboyant great broad rim. Note the hairstyle, with the great flicky sides, also a key feature.

Sickert expert and art critic Wendy Baron asks, "Who was Mrs Barrett? Was she Italian?.. the arguement goes round in circles... Could Poplana Veneziana be one of the extant versions of Mrs Barrett"....? to name afew questions. ( Wendy Baron, 1992). Shone describes 'Mrs Barrett' here 'in gentler mood, the shadow of her wide straw hat lending mystery to her face with its light elusive smile, the curve of her mouth just echoing the brim of her hat.' The picture is just a little evocative of the famous Leonardo da Vinci, the 'Mona Lisa' smile.

Recognising this woman 'Mrs Barrett' as one and the same throughout the 'Mrs Barrett' series withjout having access to Secret Service Information comes through an astute awareness of Walter Sickert as artistic genius and master of caprice, which Sickert experts Baron and Shone admirably demonstrate. Numerous critics, caseworkers and art lovers have walked past Walter Sickert's detailed exposé on 'Mrs. Barrett', who, by the time she reached forty, was one of the three female members of the world famous Jenkinson Spy Ring. Catharine Eddowes, as 'Catharine Kelly', known as 'Kitty' is registered as one of Jenkinson's agents in the Special Operations Retained Archive, John Kelly's code/agent name appears to be 'Barrett'.

Above, we have her in her early years, as she was when she was cavorting about with her Irish Sergeant, wearing one of her 'one joyful day only' hats.

Sickert loved this lady to bits. No question. No subjects outside of Jo, Eddy, Mary Kelly and Annie Crook are sketched and painted at the different stages of their development in the way she is, apart from Sickert's wives. (Who get less attention). There is no populist or evocative erotiscism in the 'Mrs Barrett' series at any stage. She looks at us with the gentle eyes of deep friendship, particularly through paintings of her later years. Catharine Kitty Eddowes was on a par with Sickert intellectually and emotionally.

Right: The photograph of Catharine Eddowes' daughter Annie Phillip's (née Conway) great grandaughter, Catharine Phillip's grandaughter, Catharine Sarah Hall, and her little daughter.

Compare the picture of 'Mrs. Barrett' against the photo of the little Eddowes girl. Note how (as ever) a clear almost replicate likeness appears after four/five generations.

According to the Eddowes family Catharine Sarah Hall, the little girl's mother, was known to her family as 'Kitty'.

Thomas Conway is curiously absent from Catharine Eddowes' Inquest. Annie Philips is cross questionned only briefly by the Police lawyer: ' By Mr. Crawford:- She was not sure if her father was a pensionner from the Royal Irish. It might have been the Connaught rangers. Mr Crawford observed that there was a pensionner of the 18th Royal Irish named Thomas Conway, but he was not the Conway who was wanted. '

Thomas Conway was a Sergeant in the 18th Royal Irish in 1862. This is the Thomas Conway inscribed on Kitty Eddowes' arm. T. C. Catharine 'Kitty' Eddowes' association with Thomas marked the beginning of a lifelong sojourn into the twilight world of confederate Irish activity among the Fenian Irish of Dublin and East London. Police did not want Thomas at the Inquest because he might have been recognised by those opposing informant activity. SpB would rather not have had Sergeant Thomas Conway and his Irish association brought into the Inquest proceedings, though hewas suggestibly the most relevant witness to Catharine 'Kitty' Eddowes formative years. ' He was not the Conway that was wanted.'

In 1881, when she was about at the height of her powers, Catharine 'Kitty' Eddowes teamed up with one 'John Kelly', a partner with whom she was to remain throughout the remaining seven years of her life. From 1881 to 1888 they were both living at the heart of Old Whitechapel in Flower and Dean Street at the centre of the most densely populated hotbed of crime and confederate Irish terrorist conspiracy in rebel East London. She appears to have instantly asked to be known as 'Catharine Kelly' and passed herself off as John Kelly's wife. By the Deputy of the Lodging House at Flower and Dean Street, Brick lane, Spitalfields, at the Eddowes Inquest :" I have known deceased and Kelly for the last seven or eight years, they passed as man and wife.."

Both Kitty Eddowes and John Kelly , known together in Whitechapel as 'Catharine Kelly and John Kelly' were spying on Irish rebel activity for the head of Secret Service Under Secretary Edward Jenkinson.

Catharine Eddowes aka Catharine Kelly and one 'John Kelly' was assigned to assasination detection. See below:

Above: From the book Special Branch Crime Department 1880-1920, in the Special Operations Retained Archive. Secret Service file reference no. 3060/52 , no. 214. Files listed/contained under 'Kelly.' Note that 'Catharine Kelly and John Kelly' have the same secret service file reference number.

Note that Catharine Eddowes, aka 'Catharine Kelly'- spelt with the C- has filed a report on the murder of a 'McDoughty' who apparently betrayed his violent Irish league by cleaving to another rebel group. Catharine Kelly will have been attending meetings at Berner Street and Fitzroy Street, perceived that he was in danger and on his death, gleaned information from confederate rebels who assassinated him by masquerading as a keen conspirator who enthused about their ideas. She'll then have handed a full report on the assassins to the Spymaster, Under Secretary Edward Jenkinson.

Jenkinson, according to the annotation, handed the file on her report to Section d Special Branch. Conceivably, there was more work to do on the McDoughty matter. That or Kitty aka Catharine Kelly regularly went through Melville, Littlechild and Anderson when she handed in her reports on the Irish assassinations. Given that here Jenkinson was handing a file on John Kelly to Section d at the same time as he was on Catharine, it seems he's asking Section d to Investigate both of them in respect of an assassination matter. He may be handing Section d details on Catharine Kelly and John Kelly for a more sinister purpose.

Throughout his service with Jenkinson and Melville of the Secret Service, John Kelly, Catharine Eddowes' aka 'Catharine Kelly's' partner was given an almost contrivedly normal, yet distinct name, 'Jim Barrett'. Hence Catharine Eddowes' becoming known as 'Mrs. Barrett' to those involved in Jenkinson's Secret service work.

Below, an extract from the list of agents who operated within the Special Branch annexe of the 'Jenkinson Spy Ring', two pages summing up their names and their pay, (1888, top.). Notice that for 1888, John Kelly, agent name 'Jim Barrett', was transferred from working exclusively for Jenkinson and Melville to SB's spy annexe, where he would immediately be working with Littlechild, Williamson and of course Assistant Commissioner Anderson, whose work for both the Secret Service Spy Ring and its section d Special Branch annexe was completely seamless. Special Branch are particularly in a flap about this little book at present. It contains endless references to the real and code names of the Jenkinson Spy ring and their liaison with Cheif John Littlechild.

Note the specific name spelling, 'Barrett'

We can see that on his transferral ( which the book makes clear was effectuated in late October 1888) 'Jim Barrett' was given a new 'agent name', 'Barber'. There's a note by the name:

Barber (New infiltrator ( inlr) Jim Barrett, per Ins. Melville.)

There exist numerous diverse reports on how Catharine 'Kitty' Eddowes experienced a period of sorrow and destitution during the breakdown of her relationship with her first love Thomas Conway in 1880, which in the light of the Special Branch evidence have to be taken with a pinch of salt. It's clear though, that the life she lead was not an easy one. Some witnesses at her Inquest insist that the drink consoled her: " he was a teetoller, my mother and he were on bad terms because she used to drink..." ( her daughter Annie, at the Inquest, on her father Thomas Conway.)

Catharine Eddowes was 'produced before magistrates' on the 21st September 1881 at Thames Magistrates' Court charged with 'Drunk and Disorderly'. She was quickly assigned to the socially well placed and dreaded Magistrate Saunders who instantly discharged her without fine or penalty of any kind. Studies of the notorious Saunders' record of terrorising defendants and barristers alike reveal what an exception this was. Her complete release was almost certainly engineered by Police on a Special Branch directive.

There exist many reports throughout the late Victorian period on well placed Officials and Informants finding themselves unable to cope with their assignments and/or resorting to the bottle ( Cutbush, Dr Hebbert etc.). Having lived with an Irish informant for seven years Catharine will have had little choice in her new assignment to live with John Kelly in the East End of London. In terms of her remit, she'll have had to flesh out the life of a destitute Whitechapel prostitute if she was to spy for Jenkinson and Section d effectively.

Left, Sickert's beautiful masterpiece 'Putana a Casa', ('The Broken Prostitute.') Circa 1903-4, ( inscribed 1904 on verso) but conceivably painted much earlier. 46 x 38 cms. Signed top right Sickert. First Exhibited in Paris, at the Salon D'Automne, 1906 no. 1551 on Sickert's return from Italy. Currently the property of Patricia Cornwell, fiction crimewriter and self styled forensic analyst.

Note the hair, shaped almost like a french pastry, flicked right out at the sides, a characteristic of the paintings in the 'Mrs Barrett' series. Remember also that the female subject is intended to be approx. 23 years older than is in the introductory 'Mrs Barrett.'

Wendy Baron notes in her analysis that Sickert wrote a number of (unpublished) letters to Jaques Emille Blanche from Venice stating 1903-6 stating he was prioritising landscapes rather than portraiture. Sickert's Venetian full and half body portraits, mostly dated 1902-1906 appear however to have been prodigious at this time. 'Putana a Casa' , dated on verso 1906 is not a picture that extolls the essence of any Venetian model. " Perhaps many drawings were inscribed and innacuratley dated later'" Wendy asks? Nonetheless as Wendy states the painting demonstrates characteristics of Venetian paintings such as 'solitary props' and "little attempt to place figures convincingly within their settings". If 'Putana a Casa' was drawn using a Venetian model as a basic support, ( a definite possibility) its subject was intended to represent someone Walter Sickert had known and loved at an earlier period not exclusive of the 1880's. Walter Sickert was probably painting his record of events abroad in Venice and keeping the detail to himself.

The painting's current owner Patricia Cornwell correctly points out that 'Putnana a Casa' "resembles mortuary photographs of Eddowes and is suggestive of the mutilations to the right side of Eddowes' face."

Below: a digital copy of the only copy original of the mortuary photograph of Eddowes' face available for inspection in the National Archives; Taken by Felicity J Lowde, Courtesy Mario Aleppo, Head of Conservation.

Left: The Copy of the unique original of the mortuary photograph of Catharine Eddowes' face held at the National Archives, Conservation Unit, Kew Gardens, London. Author's photograph. Note the comparison between the picture and the painting.

It is more likely that Walter Sickert was acquainted with the mortuary pictures retained by Special Branch during his lifetime than that he murdered the woman he depicted in 'Putana a Casa' singlehandedly ( and hence knew her dying face) as Cornwell suggests.

Water Sickert could have obtained copies of the Mortuary photographs from only two sources. The Special Operations Retained Archives, to which access was/is no mean feat unless you are a Special Branch agent, and a small book published in 1899, 'Vacheur l'Eventreur et les Crimes Sadistiques' by Alexandre Lessagne which did not emerge until eleven years after the murders, six years before the loosely established date of many of the Sickert paintings printed on this page.

The question of whether or not Catharine 'Kitty' Eddowes maintained her morale throug her last two years is relevant in that we can see that she was in the process of betraying Special Branch Senior Officials on the night she met her unhappy death. Our Catharine, 'KittyK' was proactive in her new found reason to live and was drawing on all her acquired expertise and insider knowledge of Secret Service and Special Branch practice. She had set herself the task of delivering letters and essential evidence over to Prince Eddy and the Royal family for the sake of a cause she believed in on behalf of breakaway rebel confederates and young politicians whose claim she felt was genuine, whose ways were gentle. Whilst employed as a spy in hardened East London, she met up with free spirited and artistic, musical acquiantance who enjoyed her company disinterestedly and returned joyful laughter to her life. So it seems. She had friendship. By 1888, instead of spying for Special Branch Secret Service annexe, she was spying on her employers, exploiting their information and helping rebel confederates structure their programme.

Below: 'KittyK, Small Plate'. ( Formal Title.) C 1920, etching and engraving, printed in black ink on laid paper. Etched either at the Frith or at Red Lion Street. 17.4 cms 11.7 ref: Bromberg 195. Copy in the Tate Gallery Archives, London, current. Last exhibited by the Fine Art Society, New York, 2002.

The face in the etching 'Kitty K ' ( Walter Sickert's title, as before) above clearly suggests the face in the 'Putana a Casa' and the National Archives picture. The angle of the face is the same; the flick of her hair, deliberatley scruffier than in pictures and paintings of the earlier days, is identical. As with his pictures of Kitty 'Mrs. Barrett' that demonstrate the lost Prince 'Jo's situation, Sickert's hidden her exact facial features (while continuing to demonstrate the case).

We can see more maturity , and there's more abandon in KittyK at this stage, in her last two years or so-presumably. Her dress is more casual, better toned to her own figure and lifestyle than anything dressy. She's as skilled and carefree as her clothes are ragged. Her hat's a little well worn.
Check out the close up of her face ( right.) and compare it with 'Putana a Casa' and the mortuary photograph.

There is evidence to suggest that Thomas Conway, from 1886 onwards became very concerned about Eddowes' new lifestyle and her involvements. It was dangerous enough her working for Jenkinson's Special Branch annexe, reporting on terror and assassination in lawless London. Working for Jenkinson's agents inside Special Branch in order to double cross them was another matter, apparently; as far as he was concerned, 'beyond the pale'. No member of Special Branch would get either of his son's whereabouts from his ex. (That he treated his daughter as slightly more dispensible, while Kitty didn't, is in keeping with the character that emerges via the study of his past). By Catharine's daughter Annie Phillips, née Eddowes/Conway, giving evidence:.... "She ( Annie) had not the least idea where her father was living. He had no ill will against the deceased....he had left her mother purely on account of her drinking habits. ..witness frequently saw her mother after they separated; her mother applied to her for money. The last time she saw her mother alive was two months ago...witness used to live in King Street, Bermondsley- that was about two years ago. On removing from there witness did not leave any address. She had two brothers, Conway being their father. Her mother did not know where to find either of them; the information was purposefully kept from her. She supposed that that was in order to prevent her mother from applying to them for money.."

Sickert's aware of this phase, and captures Catharine Eddowes with tactfulness typical of the wit and light that was both their speciality. Below, he etches her for some of his friends ( sketch relating to the introductory ' Mrs Barrett' picture in the series)..

This cartoon (left) Walter Sickert named 'Thursday Afternoon'. ( Thought to have been etched in 1906.) Sent on a post-card to his friend Mrs Swinton. Now at Browse and Darby, London. It was not sent as an intimidating postcard; it was sent to a friend who shared the secret about how 'Kitty' died.. With a whisper at the base of the page... 'Look at this with your eyes half shut.'

'Thursday afternoon', 28th September 1888, Catharine 'Kitty' Eddowes came back from her and 'husband' John's joint hop-picking expedition. According to her partner John Kelly's Inquest statement " ...We were hop picking until Thursday. We both went to the casual ward on Thursday night at Shoe Lane. I saw deceased on Saturday morning at eight o' clock.".

Between Thursday 28th Sept. and Saturday 30st (morning) Catharine 'Kitty' had been about her courrier business, which involved liasing with 'Albert Edward's' connections, collecting a letter from Walter Sickert destined for his lover Mary Kelly, that Saturday night. Catharine Eddowes wouldn't see another Thursday in this world after the 28th September 1888. Walter Sickert's mind goes back to that Thursday afternoon; the sight of her intuitive expression, (shown below), her clever eyes, her fleeting presence. He knew it and she knew it; she'd soon be off to leave a message at the 'Standard' newspaper Office about no ordinary correspondence.

If one follows Walter Sickert's instructions 'Look at this with your eyes half shut' , the cartoon of the face (left) universally accepted to be a rendition of 'Mrs Barrett' appears deluged in ominous cartoon blood.

Walter Sickert's focus on Catharine 'Kitty's Eddowes' appearance prior to her death at the hands of Special Branch Police is demonstrated in the Picture 'Mrs. Barrett' (below.) Pastels on canvas, c. 1895, ( date on verso, conceivably painted six years earlier). Property of The Tate Gallery, London, donated by Lady Cavendish Bentnick, 1940. Here 'Mrs. Barrett' wears the 'Collier de Perles' she's seen adorned with in another painting of that name, neatly covering the most vulnerable part of her jugular. A hand held high as if seized at the wrist in the dressing table mirror is not an incidental mixture of paint and shape, it also features in a mirror in an untitled Sickert portrait resembling Polly Nicholl's female descendants. 'String of Pearls' is a euphemism for the Institutions of Old London, including Chancery Lane. Catharine 'Kitty's' pearl necklace outlines the place where her neck was slashed across. She was assassinated delivering messages for a Prince.

A picture of Kitty K, Mrs Barrett, Catharine Eddowes, before she left for the Standard Newspaper. Kitty here looks at us with eyes of friendship and harmony of thought earlier described. There's an almost spiritual dimension to the painting. See how the pastel surrounding her to her left is suggestive of ripples of movement. As though her spirit, standing almost clear as day in front of Walter Sickert goes to leave, returns, and stays before us, the look of friendhip and trust implicit in her intelligent eyes.

Or like the snowfalls in the river

One moment white, then melt forever

Or like the rainbow’s lovely form

Evanishing amid the storm.

Note the fake fir trim of her coat, described on the Inquest list of property found on Kitty Eddowes at the scene of her death: '" Black cloth coat, imitation fir edging round collar, fur round sleeves, no blood on front outside, large quantity of blood inside and back"....( see below.)

Right: extract from the original Inquest papers, held at the Guild Hall, London, demonstrating the list of Catharine Eddowes' clothing found on her dead body.

Catharine 'Kitty's' last movements are outlined in 'The Night Catharine Eddowes died' and 'Kelly's Library,' where we discuss evidence revealing that Kitty on the night she died was in the process of collecting a message from 'Albert Edward's men destined for Mary Kelly which she was going to leave at 'Kelly's Library' , the little tobacconist's at no. 21, Cleveland Street (click).

The evidence explored on the referenced pages suggests she left a message for Mary Kelly in the personal columns of the Evening Standard on Albert Edward's behalf, signed 'Kittie ' : A letter awaits you, Kelly's Library. Kittie.' She went to meet Albert Edward's men in the early hours of the morning on the 30th September....and was intercepted by Chief John Littlechild, and murdered. 'Albert Edward's and Mary's activity had been detected and followed by Chief Inspector Littlechild. Catherine 'Kitty' Eddowes was therefore greeted by specific Special Branch agents, and met her death.

Kitty's message was printed by the Standard on the 5th October.

Below, ' Le Journal' ,Walter Sickert, circa 1906, ( French for 'The Daily Newspaper' ) another in the 'Mrs.Barrett' series. Oil on canvas, 50.8 x 40.6 cms. London, Private Collection. Here the message could not be clearer. Kitty Eddowes, aka Catharine Kelly or 'Mrs Barrett' has been murdered; she lies on her back, her mouth apparently slashed asunder, exactly as it appears in the Special Branch forensic photograph of her face. Her dead eyes gaze devastated, horrified, at the announcement in the personal columns in the back of a newspaper that was evidently published shortly after she died. She sees the little announcement bearing her name: she now sees that in the same little column there's also a message signed 'ALBERT EDWARD'.

Below : Catharine 'Kitty' Eddowes in the mortuary, lain in her coffin, demonstrating the effect of the torture and violation she suffered. The original first copy of the first mortuary photos. Taken by Felicity J Lowde, Courtesy of Mario Aleppo, Head of Conservation, U K National Archives.

Note that Walter Sickert's picture of 'Mrs Barrett' in 'Le Journal' ( above) depicts Catharine's exact facial features and their wreckage and appears to derive from both mortuary pictures .

Walter Sickert clearly did access the mortuary pictures. The painting's been been constructed via the imagination of an artist who loved her well, who evidently did know about her last movements, who persued access to mortuary photos which were then retained in the Special Operations Archive, copies of which were for sale a decade after her death via one isolated publication in Southern France, 'Vacheur l'Eventreur et les Crimes Sadistiques' , 1899, by Alexandre Lecassagne.

Walter Sickert was determined to tell the story of Catharine 'Kitty' Eddowes' betrayal and death.

Below, a picture of Catharine Sarah Hall, the one the Eddowes family of later generations called 'Kitty', great grandaughter of Catharine Eddowes, mother to the little girl in the photo high above who so resembles the painting of the younger 'Mrs Barrett' in her joyful hat. Catharine 'Kitty' Sarah Hall in her younger years.
Catharine Eddowes' great grandaughter. Her hair was auburn.Compare with the picture of Catharine Eddowes aka 'Mrs. Barrett' looking at us straight in the face before setting off for the 'Standard.' Compare to the young introductory picture of 'Mrs. Barrett'.

..'"Her age seems to fluctuate wildly from shy young woman to care worn middle age, to distinctive beauty just past her prime....." ( Wendy Baron, 1992.)

Psychology and ascendancy in the fine detail can be extraordinary . Notice that Kitty (above) enjoys wearing her pearls both high around her neck, encircled around the part where 'Mrs Barrett' wears them in 'Mrs Barrett', or resting them at the base of her neck exactly where 'Mrs Barrett' wears them in 'Le Collier des Perles.' ( below.) Of course the 'double collier' was fashion. But the placing of Kitty's pearls is exact.

Le 'Collier des Perles' (right) is the one painting in the 'Mrs Barrett' series where the subject is a little unlike our 'Kittie Catharine', though perhaps this is down to the unusual angle. It's deathlike, almost as if a lack of oxygen has suddenly stifled the subject; her eyes freeze their focus and turn inwards; perhaps Walter's again bringing out the unatural Security secret . The skull shape is
Catharine Eddowes' exactly. The collier rests on base of her neck and almost suggests an opening such as would be made by a preliminary stab wound two inches above the gap between the top breast bones.

Below: the original Special Branch picture of Catharine Eddowes at the morgue, October 1888, lifted to standing position by wall hooks, for Scotland Yard photographers. Taken by Felicity J. Lowde, Courtesy of Mario Aleppo, Head of Conservation, National Archives, London U K. We can see her likeness a little, ( she been violated). The original is tiny, 7 x 4 cms, difficult to replicate or reproduce without considerable upgrades, hence the rarity of its circulation.

Right: 'Poplana Veneziana', c (dated) 1905, (probably before). From the 'Mrs Barrett' series.Pastel on Millboard, 66 x 44 . First exhibited Paris, Salon D'Automne, 1905, no. 1432. Currently in the Canada National Gallery, Otowa. Prov. the late Dr. Robert Emmonds.

Catharine Eddowes died in the very early hours of the 30th September, 1888. She was discovered lying dead in a heap near a street lamp in Mitre Square at 1.45 a.m. by Police Constable Watkins, City Police, with ' her face mutilated almost beyond identity, portion of the nose being cut off, the lobe of the right ear nearly severed, the face cut, the throat cut, and disembowled'. ( Suptd. Donald S. Swanson, 6th Nov. 1888, to the Home Office.) Compare the Popolana Veneziana's face and the face in the motuary picture above.

Catharine Eddowes died in the very early hours of the 1st October, 1888. She was discovered lying dead in a heap near a street lamp in Mitre Square at 1.45 a.m. by Police Constable Watkins, City Police, with ' her face mutilated almost beyond identity, portion of the nose being cut off, the lobe of the right ear nearly severed, the face cut, the throat cut, and disembowled'. ( Suptd. Donald S. Swanson, 6th Nov. 1888, to the Home Office.)

Compare the Popolana Veneziana's face and the face in the motuary picture above.

By Sickert experts Wendy Baron and Richard Shone, Poplana Veneziana's very probably 'one of the extant portraits of Mrs. Barrett' . These inform that the pastel picture on millboard has previously been known as 'Blackmail or Mrs. Barrett'. ( Baron and Shone, 1992 ). The myth about Mrs Barrett's double name 'Blackmail or Mrs. Barrett' was instigated by BBC researchers in the 1970's after they visited Joseph Sickert, who, by their account, pointed to the introductory picture 'Mrs Barrett' and told them that Walter Sickert had told him its title really ought have been 'Blackmail' and it was a picture of Mary Kelly.

Baron and Shone's 1990-1992 investigation into 'Poplana Veneziana' uncovered two titles, a gesture typical of cluemaster Sickert, but 'Blackmail' was not among them. 'Poplana Veneziana' is not a blackmailer; neither is the introductory 'Mrs. Barratt'. Nothing about either painting suggests Walter Sickert ever gave her such a title .

The old backing labels from 'Poplana Veneziana' were uncovered when the tableau was unframed in Ottowa, Canada, after its proprietor Dr Emmonds had died. Sickert had handwritten 'Poplana Veneziana' , (in English, 'The Venetian lady of the people'.) Presumably he named his painting with reference to his stay at the home town of past Stuart exiles, beautiful Venice. Nothing else on the back of the tableau; except, significantly, the address where he'd painted it, or to where he'd apparently had the original base millboard delivered, Constable's old studio, at 76 Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square, London. Two hunded yards from 21, Cleveland Street, 'Kelly's Library'.

Baron and Shone, frequently nuisanced by allegations against Walter Sickert from simpletons wanting them to call him a self motivated serial killer, have reacted against the discovery of a possible secret studio frequented by Walter Sickert two hundred yards away from Cleveland Street, the centre of the old legends about the origins of the Whitechapel murders. The art cricts claim ' Whether or not Sickert's room was the same as that used by Constable has not been verified.'...'

This is refuted by Walter Sickert, who categorically states that he had a secret studio at Constable's old studio at 76 Charlotte Street. ( He often signed 'Richard Sickert' post 1913). His letter to The Times of the 24th September 1934 reads

SIR:- Mr. Hind's objections to the proposition re 76 Charlotte Street are unanswerable.

There was room for one painter to work in the studio, which I once occupied for some time, for an easel to hold what Constable used to call a 'six-footer', and the collection of small studies serving as notes. There was in his time light and relative quiet. One good thing only remains and that is the little circular disk designed by the society of arts, which has alsewhere mostly been supplanted by an unsuitable oblong bronxe elevation, usually blacked and polished like a boot. Of all people, painters can do without monuments, since they have in their lifetime erected their own, good, bad, or indifferent as the case may be.


Notwithstanding, Baron and Shone insist

The address on the label ( Constable's Studio) should probably be regarded as the one Sickert chose to give the organisers of the Salon D'Automne for the publication of the catalogue rather than where he worked. The interior is almost certainly 8 Fitzroy Street.'.( Baron and Shone, 1992).

....To which I would respond that whether or not 'Mrs Barrett' (as Popolana Veneziana) was painted so that she might appear as if she was seated in Fitzroy Street is irrelevant to where the 'squared up' ( transferred to canvas) painting was actually painted, that it is wholly impossible to tell from the back of a chair in a painting where a painting was painted atall , and that Sickert probably either painted Popolana Veneziana in Charlotte Street in the early/mid 1990's before leaving the country to travel through France and Italy. Or , given that the labels the back of Popolana Veneziana state 76, Charlotte Street, ( and not 35, the old house numbers) Walter Sickert probably had artist's material destined for use in 'series paintings' (which reveal volumes about the Whitechapel murder case) sent to Venice at the turn of the century via secret studios such as 76 Charlotte Street, in order to avoid officious serveillance or speculation.

According to the Tate, 'The Russian Girl' might have been Popolana Veneziana's 'Second Title'. ( Tate Gallery Modern British catalogue, vol. II, 1964, p.663.) Baron and Shone have published no suggestions as to its import; mine is that the 'second title' either infers an undiscovered Musical Variety song filled with hints about the case, or, perhaps, Tolstoy's lady, otherwise a favourite of the Hussars; 'Kitty.' The name Kitty was regularly used at the Russian Court in Petersbourg. It is exactly Walter Sickert to create a fanciful dimension to a woman's nickname, as with 'La Guissepina' and 'La Carolina.' It isn't difficult to see Eddie's B troop Hussars exploiting the substitute 'Kitty' for Katy where their courrier lass was concerned.

Via the two titles Walter Sickert may be combining an inference to a woman well known to people from both Venice and Russian Poland, to known refugees of descendants and relatives of the Bonnie Prince Charlie. In which case we have a further hint as to Jo's Stuart ancestry. Kitty Eddowes, a woman of the Stuart people.


Dismissed by uninformed critics as a 'charwoman': here's another picture in the Mrs Barrett series. There is no evidence from Walter Sickert to suggest that 'Mrs Barrett' is Sickert's Charwoman, as Baron points out. She isn't. She's Catharine 'Kitty' Eddowes, who headed up what was known as 'Mrs Barrett's girls ( as appears in the reference in the Jack the Ripper' letters). Mrs Barrett's girls are the canonical Whitechapel 'Jack the Ripper' victims- along with others working as informal letter delivery girls for 'Kelly' Library'. Kitty deployed them to deliver messages and letters on behalf of Albert (Victor Christian) Edward and Mary Kelly, last of the 'Jack the Ripper' victims. She delivered the very important messages herself.

This picture is intriguing in that it resembles both the beautiful picture of Kitty in 'La Collier des perles' , an exact likeness to our Kitty-Catharine, and the picture of her in Poplana Veneziana. He seems to have combined the facial features of 'Kitty' before and after the destruction of her face. ' The red blouse.'


Credits: Family Photos originally appeared in the Neil Stubbings publications, and are courtesy entirely of the Eddowes family. Copyright the Eddowes family. Do not use without acknowledgement under any circumstances. Preferably, do not use. Research Copyright, Felicity J Lowde. All Walter Sickert copyright matters mentioned herein. Forensic photographs of the original forensic photographs, taken by FJL, courtesy the National Archives, Kew Gardens, UK. Unpublished Jack the Ripper documents, Special Branch, New Scotland Yard. Special Branch Photographs Felicity J Lowde, taken with permission from Special Branch.

Curently the National Archives, in association with Nicolas Pierce, Special Branch Legal Services, are attempting to state that I never had special access to the National Archives Conservation Unit, which as we see, and will further see, is a complete lie. There is no other way to phrase it. We know how Special Branch are behaving. It is beyond words. Special Branch lawyers and their associates are being investigated in respect of recent abuses towards myself.


Next, we'll take a closer look at 'Kelly's Library', and I'll tell you which music hall song is the most important to Tate Gallery artist Walter Sickert 'the cluemaster'.

No comments: