A brief history of The London Sketch Club

The London Sketch Club was founded in 1898 on April Fool’s Day by a group of illustrator artists including Dudley Hardly, Phil May, Tom Browne, Cecil Aldin and John Hassall. Most early members were successful poster artists and cartoonists and would meet every week for a session drawing from memory. This was followed by lively conversation, jokes, drinking and a meal.

Life drawing sessions were added in the 1920s. The atmosphere was irreverent and unconventional; members delighted in holding fancy dress dinners and singing after the serious business of drawing.

Life class, Picture Post, 1947

By the 1930s the Club was flourishing with a reputation not only for its entertaining evenings but also for its successful artist members such as Edmund Dulac, W. Heath Robinson and H. M. Bateman. Lavish fancy dress balls were held together with the Chelsea Arts Club and exhibitions were held.

The Club, in its Marylebone Road premises, survived the Second World War and continued to hold drawing sessions and exhibitions which now reflected the more painterly influence in the Club.
In 1957 the Club moved to its current home in Dilke Street with its offices, kitchen, bar and magnificent studio which was built for Victorian portrait painter John Collier. The studio walls are decorated with silhouettes, some brought from the two previous premises, of Club presidents dating back to the early years which demonstrate our rich and illustrious history.