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Two to three years later, in his Glebe Place studio, Sickert held the first one-man exhibition of Steer’s work.
He wrote the catalogue preface to the first exhibition of another ‘London Impressionist’ colleague, the watercolourist Francis James, held at the Dudley Gallery in 1890.
Certainly neither the management of Goupil’s (who in April 1889 had exhibited twenty ‘Impressions by Claude Monet’), nor Sickert, were in any doubt about the true meaning of the term ‘Impressionism’.
How Sickert delicately evaded coming to grips with the issue in his catalogue preface is not relevant here.
Houses built as substantial middle class residences were divided into temporary lodgings for a working class population.
When Sickert took his rooms at Mornington Crescent he was no stranger to this unfashionable area.
In 1894 he had abandoned Chelsea, where most of his painter colleagues considered it essential to live and work.
While tactfully lying low at official club meetings and exhibiting only one picture in 1889 (Collin’s Music Hall, Islington Green),4 he busied himself behind the scenes, trying to recruit sympathetic new members, and conspiring to secure control of the selecting jury by his own faction.It is of interest, in view of critical reaction to later developments in Camden Town, that he rejected ‘realism’, defined as the wish to record something ‘merely because it exists’ which involved the artist in ‘a struggle to make intensely real and solid the sordid or superficial details of the subjects it selects’.6 Nevertheless, he urged the painter to seek beauty in his everyday urban surroundings.He also articulated his passionate belief that what mattered above all in a painting was ‘quality’, the fitness of its execution (even if this seemed ‘ragged’ or ‘capricious’) to the expression of the artist’s response to his subject. Although the ‘London Impressionists’ never again exhibited as a self-contained group, Sickert did not relax his attempts to publicise their activities.The story of how the north-west suburb of London known as Camden Town came to lend its name both to a style of painting and to a society of artists begins with Walter Sickert coming back to London in 1905 after nearly seven years residence abroad. Two were in the Fitzroy Street area south of the Euston Road which divided the boroughs of St Marylebone and St Pancras.