The Lambeth School of Art is built on the site of the old Vauxhall Gardens. It was founded in 1860, when King Edward, then Prince of Wales, laid the foundation stone, and from it since that time many of the most distinguished painters, sculptors, illustrators, and other art workers of the day have received part, if not all, of their artistic training. The names of Ouless, R.a., Alfred East, R.a., Stanhope Forbes, R.a., Charles Ricketts, Charles Shannon, Frank Craig, and the late John Macallan Swan, A.r.a., are to be noted among the many past students who have since become famous.
The Lambeth School of Art is a large one, and no less than two hundred students, of whom about two-thirds are women, pass through it in the course of a year.
The school provides systematic training in drawing, painting; modelling, and designing, adapted to the requirements of professional artists, designers, crafts-men and teachers, as well as those who study art as a branch of a general education. Since the school is subsidised by grants both from the London County Council and the Board of Education, fees are remarkably low.
There are day and evening classes, and as figure drawing forms a prominent feature in the various courses of study, life classes are held both during the day and in the evening, men and women students working in separate studios.
Intending students are advised to bring
Pupils learning to draw from the model specimens of their work when applying for admission to the school, to serve as guide to Mr. Mckeggie, the head master, in the mapping out of a course of study in accordance with the attainments and requirements of each.
The artistic training given is of the highest order. All teaching is based on the fact that it is useless to attempt to specialise in any direction before a thorough all-round grounding in art has been obtained, after which the technical details of etching, lithography, pastel drawing, poster designing, illustrating, or fashion-plate drawing can be mastered in a few weeks or months by specialised study.
Under the tutorial system in vogue at Lambeth, the work of each new student is carefully adapted to his or her special capabilities, due attention being paid in regard to signs of special strength or weakness in any direction. This, while entailing a large amount of individual instruction, encourages the student to develop her abilities and to express her individuality to the widest possible extent in every branch of art, and to work with almost equal ease in every medium.
The Lambeth Art School is an ideal one for the poor student who. on graduating from the school, finds herself face to face with the problem of how to make a living. Ready to turn her hand to whatever form of artistic work is available at the moment, she goes out into the world well equipped in her craft, and prepared to paint portraits, miniatures, landscapes, or to do a little modelling, as opportunity offers.
Many of the girl students turn their thorough all-round training in art to account by illustrating their own story books. One of them has started an aquarium in order to study fish to introduce into her illustrations of Kingsley's " Water Babies." One or two others are now working in their own studios at fashion-plate drawing, and making a good income, while working at the school a couple of days a week to keep in touch with higher artistic things.
Several enterprising girl students have left for the Colonies. Full of courage and pluck, they have very wisely gone prepared with a second trade or profession with which to supplement an artistic career, and are already doing well. There is also a delightful story of a girl who went to South Africa to teach art and keep a chicken farm, who wrote home the other day to say that her Christmas orders were " seven turkeys, five sucking pigs, and three miniatures."
This girl worked hard and saved money for two years, and then came back to study art in Paris, while another Lambeth student went out to take her place.
Another girl went to India, at her own risk, to paint portraits and pastels, and she, too, is doing well; while a third enterprising damsel taught art at Constantinople for a couple of years, and is now art teacher at an English boarding school.
Beginners work simultaneously in the cast-room from very large casts, which enable them to study details in the modelling of each feature as they could not do from the living model-in the costume, portrait, and life classes, and in the classes for design.
The modelling class at work
More advanced students who wish to specialise in miniature work sit in the front row of the portrait class, and work on their wee squares of ivory, but only after having already made a half or three-quarter life-size study from the model.
Others, who have a special gift of doing quaint little sketches of children, learn in the figure design and composition class, under Mr. Alfred Garth Jones's expert tuition, to work them up into saleable illustrations for children's books.