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Artists Biography

Clare Sheridan

(9 September 1885 - 31 May 1970)
Clare Sheridan was a cousin of Sir Winston Churchill - their mothers were sisters. Following the death of her husband Sheridan established herself as a successful sculptor of portrait busts; her sitters included H.G. Wells, Lord Asquith and, famously, Trotksy and Lenin (her Lenin was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1924, causing much embarrassment to her anti-Bolshevik cousin, Churchill).

Clare Sheridan (born as Clare Consuelo Frewen; also known as Clare Consuelo Sheridan) (9 September 1885 - 31 May 1970), was an English sculptress and writer who is known primarily for creating busts for famous sitters, and writing diaries recounting her worldly travels. She was a cousin of Sir Winston Churchill, with whom she had enjoyed an amicable relationship, but her support for the October Revolution caused them to break ranks politically in the 1920s.

Clare Consuelo Frewen was born in London, the daughter of Moreton Frewen of East Sussex and his American wife, the former Clarita "Clara" Jerome. She married William Frederick Sheridan in 1910; they had three children. William Sheridan was a Lieutenant in the Rifle Brigade, he was killed while leading his men at the Battle of Loos in 1915. Her godmother and namesake was Consuelo Vanderbilt, Duchess of Marlborough.

After the death of her second child, Elizabeth, in 1914, Sheridan sculpted a weeping angel as an outpouring for her grief. It was from this piece of art that she discovered an ability for sculpting, and after the death of her husband a year later, she moved from France to London to study under John Tweed and Professor Edouard Lanteri.

While visiting America, Sheridan had a love affair with Charlie Chaplin. She enjoyed travelling around the world, and among her circle of friends were Princess Margaret of Sweden, Lord and Lady Mountbatten, Lady Diana Cooper, Vita Sackville-West and Vivien Leigh.

Her famous busts of her first cousin Churchill can be found at Blenheim Palace, Chartwell, Harrow School and Hastings Town Hall; the original plaster is in the possession of her great-nephew Jonathan Frewen. In 1956 Sheridan moved to Belmont House, a fine property in Hastings Old Town. She had a large collection of American Indian artifacts, some of which are on display at Hastings Museum and in the Frewen family's ancestral village of Brede in Sussex.

In the summer of 1920 a Soviet Russian trade delegation on a visit to London invited Clare to travel to Russia to make busts of notable revolutionaries. In the autumn she travelled to Moscow, where her sculpting subjects included Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky and Lev Kamenev. While in Russia Sheridan is reputed to have had affairs with more than one of her sitters. Her reputed relationship with Kamenev is thought to have led to his divorce from his first wife, Olga Kameneva; and author Robert Service, in his 2009 book, claims to an affair between Sheridan and Trotsky. Trotsky signed and dedicated a painting of himself to Clare.

Sheridan's dalliance with known Soviet agents earned her the suspicions of the Security Service, which became convinced that she was an agent and a dangerous anti-British propagandist. She attracted the attention of the Security Service after being invited to Moscow in 1920 to sculpt Lenin, Trotsky and Zinoviev. This earned her an MI5 file, in which she was labelled as a dangerous propagandist. The service noted: "She has conducted herself in a disloyal manner in various foreign countries, adopting a consistently anti-British attitude. In 1925 telephone taps revealed that she had, allegedly, passed details of conversations with Churchill, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, to Norman Ewer, foreign editor of the Daily Herald and a known Soviet agent. Later in 1925 Sheridan moved to Algiers, where it was noted by MI5 that "she appeared to be comfortably off and debt-free for the first time in 10 years".

After the war she converted to Roman Catholicism travelling to Assisi for that purpose and she moved to The Spanish Arch Galway, where she continued to sculpt, albeit subjects and icons of religious importance before returning to live in Belmont House in Hastings, Sussex. She died in 1970 at the age of 84, having outlived two of her three children. She is buried in the churchyard of St George's, Brede, Sussex beside her nephew Roger Frewen and her great-niece Selina Frewen.

Written works.

Russian Portraits (1921)
Mayfair to Moscow: Clare Sheridan's Diary (1921)
My American Diary (New York, Boni and Liveright)(1922)
In Many Places (1923)
West to East (1923)
Across Europe with Satanella (1925)
A Turkish Kaleidoscope (1926)
Nuda Veritas (1927); published in the U.S. as Naked Truth(New York, Harper & Brothers, 1928)
Arab Interlude (1936)
Without End (1939)
To the Four Winds (1957)

Works by this artist…

  • Sir Winston Churchill
    Sir Winston Churchill
    ( ref : 123321 )
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