Sickert was born in Munich to parents of Danish origin but British nationality. He settled in London with his parents in 1868. Sickert initially trained as an actor but in 1881 he began studying at the Slade School of Fine Art, London. He was a pupil of Whistler and also worked with Degas in Paris two years later. Degas influenced Sickert's use of informal compositions and subject matter, particularly his fondness for theatre scenes. In the late 1920s, Sickert would often select images from newspapers to make into paintings, squaring them up to transfer straight onto canvas.