The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Thomas Stirling Lee, 1856-1916

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1856.03.16
Place of Birth: London
Date of Death: 1916.06.28
Place of Death: London


Thomas Stirling Lee was a sculptor.


Lee studied at the Royal Academy Schools where he won the Gold Medal in 1877. In 1879 he won a travelling scholarship with the Death of Abel (untraced). He also studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris under Pierre-Jules Cavelier from 1880 to 1881, and then in Rome from 1881 to 1883. He then worked in the studio of John Birnie Philip, during which time he won a competition to design reliefs for St George's Hall in Liverpool showing the Story of Justice and the Story of Liverpool (1886-94). He also produced reliefs for the Lindley clock tower in Huddersfield in 1902, and bronze gates for the Adelphi Bank in Liverpool in 1903.

Lee developed an idealizing style. He was also interest in technique, and innovatively made carvings, along with James Havard Thomas, directly on marble without the use of assistants. He became involved with Alfred Gilbert in reviving the lost-wax process of bronze-casting.

Lee was a founder member of the New English Art Club in 1886. He was also a founder of the Chelsea Arts Club, of which JW was also a member, and of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1904. From 1889 he was a member of the Art Workers' Guild. He exhibited in London at these venues as well as at the Royal Academy, Royal Institute of Oil Painters, Fine Art Society, Grosvenor Gallery, New Gallery, Society of British Artists, of which JW became President in 1886, and International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, which was set up in 1898 with JW as its President. He also exhibited at the Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, Royal Scottish Academy, Royal Hibernian Academy, Walker Gallery in Liverpool and Manchester City Art Gallery.

Lee was amongst those proposed invitees to a dinner organised by W. C. Symons to congratulate Whistler on being made an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Munich, a dinner which was to be held at the Criterion in Piccadilly on 1 May 1889 (#00631). In December 1891 Lee wrote to JW on behalf of the Chelsea Arts Club, inviting him to a dinner organised in his honour to celebrate the French government's acquisition of Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101) (#00598).


Lee, Thomas Stirling, 'Sculpture and Sculptors' Methods on Relation to Architecture', Journal of the Proceedings of the Royal Institute of British Architects, n.s., vol. 8, 1892, pp. 55-58; Lee, T. S., 'Sculpture', Architectural Association Notes, vol. 11, 1895, pp. 153-54.

Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; Johnson, J., and A. Gruetzner, Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980; Pearson, Fiona, 'Thomas Stirling Lee', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 15 January 2003).