Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sass, Henry

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SASS, HENRY (1788–1844), painter and teacher of painting, was born in London on 24 April 1788. His father belonged to an old family of Kurland on the Baltic in Russia, and settled in England after his marriage, where he practised as an artist in London. Sass became a student in the Royal Academy, and later availed himself of the facilities offered to young students by the directors of the British Institution for copying the works of old masters. Sass first appears as an exhibitor in 1807, and in 1808 exhibited at the Royal Academy a somewhat grandiose work, ‘The Descent of Ulysses into Hell,’ of which he executed an etching himself. In later years Sass chiefly exhibited portraits. In 1815–17 he travelled in Italy, and on his return published a narrative of his journey, entitled ‘A Journey to Rome and Naples’ (London, 1818, 8vo). Finding his profession as an artist unprofitable, Sass turned his mind to forming a school of drawing for young artists, prior to their entering the schools of the Royal Academy. This was the first school of the kind established in England, though it quickly found imitators. Sass established it in a house at the corner of Charlotte Street and Streatham Street, Bloomsbury, where it met with great success and became well known. Some of the best artists, such as Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A., from time to time placed the models; and among Sass's youthful pupils were Sir John Millais, P.R.A., C. W. Cope, R.A., W. P. Frith, R.A., W. E. Frost, R.A., and other well-known artists of distinction in later life. A humorous caricature of such a drawing-school is given by Thackeray in the ‘Newcomes;’ but though some of the details may be taken from Sass's school, it is not intended to be descriptive of this school or of Sass himself. Sass was a popular man of society, possessed of private means, an accomplished musician, and a constant entertainer of artistic and cultivated people. Among his more intimate friends, as artists, were Sir Edwin Landseer, William Etty, and J. M. W. Turner, the latter being a constant visitor and favourite in Sass's family. In 1842 Sass relinquished the direction of the school to Francis Stephen Cary [q. v.], his health having become impaired through an accident. He died in 1844. Sass married, in 1815, Mary Robinson, a connection of the earls of Ripon, a lady with some fortune, by whom he had nine children; their eldest surviving son, Henry William Sass, practised as an architect, and the youngest, Edwin Etty Sass, who survives, entered the medical profession. A portrait of Sass, by himself, is in the latter's possession.

Richard Sass or Sasse (1774–1849), landscape-painter, elder half-brother of the above, born in 1774, practised as a landscape-painter, and was an exhibitor at the Royal Academy from 1791 to 1813. He was appointed teacher in drawing to the Princess Charlotte, and later landscape-painter to the prince regent. In 1825 he removed to Paris, where he spent the remainder of his life, altering his surname to ‘Sasse.’ He died there on 7 Sept. 1849. Sasse had some repute as a landscape-painter, especially in watercolours. Specimens of his work are in the South Kensington Museum and the British Museum. In 1810 he published a series of etchings from picturesque scenery in Ireland, Scotland, and elsewhere.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760–1880; Gent. Mag. 1845, p. 210; information kindly supplied by F. J. Sass, esq.]

L. C.