London Sketch Club

Early Sketch Club Minutes

There are two volumes, one dating from 21st February 1898 and the other dating from 14th February 1908 (ten years later), the latter book running up to 9th October 1925.

The minutes are handwritten in leather-bound books of lined paper, the earlier one being an account book supplied by W Straker, commercial stationers in Ludgate Hill. Looking through them, one is immediately struck by the varying neatness of the writing. The minutes start off in neat traditional hand of George Haité, our first president. This contrasts with the hurried scrawl of later entries, some by George Haité himself.

As one might expect, the recorded proceedings are matter-of-fact and formal, lacking the humour associated with the characters mentioned in the pages. They not only give a detailed account of how the club was started, but also record when members joined and left and the organisation of exhibitions, conversazioni, dinners and other club activities.

The first few minutes are fascinating as they record the very first meetings held before the club was formed. A first 'preliminary' meeting (21st February 1898) was held at Frank Jackson's studio of in Bedford Park 'to consider the advisability of forming a new Sketching Club for Professional Men only (the gentlemen present that the formation of this would in no way affect any othr club nor was it intended to oppose any existing club' [a reference, of course, to the Langham Sketching Club]

Those present at the meeting were Dudley Hardy, Robert Sauber, Cecil Aldin, Walter Fowler, Lance Thackerey, George Haité and, of course, Frank Jackson himself. Interestingly Tom Browne was not present. He was probably otherwise engaged. Phil May rarely attended club events, let alone meetings, so it would not be out of character for him to not attend a meeting such as this one.

Generally it was proposed [at the meeting] that Mr Fowler & Mr Jackson should call and see Mr Freeman on Thursday with a view to renting The Modern Gallery, 175 Bond St. for the Sessions 1st Frid[ay] in October to last Friday in May and for two exhibitions each of one week and one conversazione.'

This pattern of activities very much matched that of the Langham Sketching Club, the club the artists were planning to leave. A further meeting was held at George's studio on 3rd March. This meeting led to an 'Agreement on officers and members' financial guarantees, 'a sum not exceeding £10 to cover expenses if necessary'.

There was another meeting held at George's studio on 10th March to agree rental amounts and other matters and another held on 21st March when the arrangements for the 'first meeting' day were agreed. 'A Meeting was called at the president's [George Haité's] Studio (23rd March) to meet the Hon Solicitor W. Sanders Fiske Esq.' Agreement to 'arrange the constitution of the Club under the original form of guarantee of £10 per member. The Club to be called ''The London Sketch Club'' & be composed of Members, Associates, Lay Associates, Hon & Hon Literary Associates,''

Four days later on 27th March 'The President & Secretary went to Café d'Italie but the proprietor regretted he could not accommodate us on Friday April 1st.' On 29th March, 'Mr Jackson arranged with the Hotel Florence to supper.'

On the same day 'At an extraordinary meeting held to go into the banking matters, it was resolved that an account be opened at the City Bank, Richmond Branch in the Club's name.' On 1st April 'Opening meeting held at the Gallery and afterwards supper at the Hotel Florence.'

Chris Lumgair
August 2000

This article covers the minutes leading up to the formation of the club on 1st April, 1898


The London Sketch Club