Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sibson, Thomas

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SIBSON, THOMAS (1817–1844), artist, son of Francis and Jane Sibson, and younger brother of Francis Sibson, M.D. [q. v.], was born in the parish of Cross Canonby, Cumberland, in March 1817, and commenced life in the counting-house of an uncle at Manchester. But, resolving to devote himself to art, he came to London in 1838, and in that year published a pair of etchings, entitled ‘The Anatomy of Happiness;’ these were followed by a series of plates of scenes in Charles Dickens's works, the dramatic power and humour of which were as remarkable as their artistic skill, and he subsequently designed many of the illustrations to Samuel Carter Hall's ‘Book of Ballads,’ the Abbotsford edition of the Waverley novels, and other fine publications. Being eager to qualify himself for more serious work by studying in the best school of historical painting, Sibson went to Munich in September 1842 and placed himself under Kaulbach, who formed a very high opinion of his talents; but he was constitutionally consumptive, and was compelled by failing health to return home early in 1844. In the autumn he sailed for the Mediterranean, intending to winter in the south, but died at Malta on 28 Nov. 1844. An album containing the whole of the sketches and studies made by Sibson before his visit to Munich, which passed at his death into the possession of his friend, William Bell Scott [q. v.], was purchased at the sale of the latter's collections in 1890 by Mr W. J. Linton, and by him presented to the British Museum.

[Art Union, 1845, p. 37; Autobiography of W. B. Scott, 1892.]

F. M. O'D.