John Charles Lewis Sparkes
Born 1833 (Presumed)
Died 11 December 1907
Active: 1855 - 1900
Country of birth and death: England
Born in Brixton and christened on 1 September 1833. His father was John Sparkes, a corn chandler. JCL Sparkes trained at the National Art Training Schools as a teacher of art c.1855-9. Prior to that he studied at Leigh's academy and the Royal Academy Schools.
He was an outstanding educator and initiated many innovative policies at Lambeth School of Art (later the South London Technical School of Art). His success led to him being appointed headmaster of the National Art Training School (NATS) in 1875 at the invitation of E.J. Poynter. In 1881 he became Principal of NATS on Poynter's retirement and remained there until his own retirement in 1898.
Sparkes was the author of many books on art including: 'A Handbook to the Practice of Painting' (1877), 'The Classical Composition of John Flaxman, Sculptor' (1879), 'Hints on Pottery Painting' (1885), 'A Manual of Artistic Anatomy' (1888), 'Wild Flowers in Art and Nature' (1894), and 'Potters: their Arts and Crafts' (1897). He also contributed to the descriptive catalogue of the Dulwich Picture Gallery (1876–1905) and edited the Fine-Arts Library series from 1884.
In 1868 he married the painter and illustrator Catherine Adeline Edwards (d. 1891), who had been his student at Lambeth. He went blind in his later years and died at his home in Surrey. The proceeds of his estate went to found scholarships for female students at the Royal Academy in memory of his wife.
Wealth at death: £12,771 7s. 6d.
Resworn probate £13,712 16s. 3d. and £14,513 16s. 7d.
Probate date: 1 February 1908
Institutional and Business Connections
Principal of South London Technical School of Art (also Lambeth School of Art and City and Guilds of London Art School)
1858 - 1900 (Circa)
He taught at the school (then Lambeth School of Art) from 1857. When the South London Technical School of Art was formed in 1879, Sparkes' title was 'Superintendent of Studies'
Principal of Royal College of Art (including National Art Training School)
1875 - 1898
Listed as Headmaster from 1875 to 1881, and as Principal from 1881 to 1898. See 'List of Staff' in the 'Report of the Departmental Committee on the Royal College of Art' (1911), p. 60. See also 'Appendix II. Previous Heads of the Royal College of Art' in the College's 1939-1940 Prospectus. See also the 1894 National Art Training School Prospectus. He is last listed in the 1897 prospectus.
Department of Science and Art of the Committee of Council on Education London. Prospectus of the National Art Training School, South Kensington, London, 1894 National Art Training School Prospectuses
Department of Science and Art of the Committee of Council on Education London. Prospectus of the National Art Training School, South Kensington, London, 1897 National Art Training School Prospectuses
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966
Name: John Charles Lewis Sparkes Probate Date: 1 Feb 1908 Death Date: 11 Dec 1907 Death Place: Surrey, England Registry: London
London, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906
Name: John Charles Lewis Sparkes Record Type: Baptism Estimated Birth Date: abt 1833 Baptism Date: 1 Sep 1833 Father's name: John Sparkes Mother's name: Margaret Sparkes Parish or Poor Law Union: Brixton St Matthew Borough: Lambeth
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
R. C. Denis, ‘Sparkes, John Charles Lewis (1832/3–1907)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/56307, accessed 7 July 2010]
Report on the National Art Training School, 1881
The New Sculpture
Citing this record
'John Charles Lewis Sparkes', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib4_1245238812, accessed 29 Sep 2016]