Spencer Gore 'From a Window in Cambrian Road, Richmond' 1913

Spencer Gore NEAC (1878–1914)


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Spencer Frederick Gore NEAC (26 May 1878–27 March 1914) was an early 20th Century British artist known for his paintings of everyday life (landscapes, music-hall scenes and interiors) with a bright exuberant colour palette. He was one of the New English Art Club's earliest and most prominent members, elected in 1909, and Co-Founder and President of the Camden Town Group. Gore was heavily influenced by French Impressionism and was introduced by Walter Sickert to Lucien Pissarro and others including Harold Gilman and Charles Ginner. His later works have a pictorial construction to them that comes from the influence of the Post-Impressionists. Gore died aged just 35, at the peak of his artistic powers.

Gore was born on 26 May 1878 in Epsom, Surrey, the youngest of the four children of the Wimbledon tennis champion, Spencer Gore and his wife Amy Margaret (née Smith). His father's brother was the theologian Charles Gore. His was sent to board at Harrow School before going on to study painting at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, where he was a contemporary of Harold Gilman.

In January 1912, he married Mary Joanna ("Molly") Kerr, with whom he had two children – Margaret Elizabeth and Frederick John Pym who would become well known as the painter Frederick Gore. In 1913, he became a member of the London Group. His later works show growing concern with pictorial construction, under the influence of the Post-Impressionists. He experimented with colour in his works, as may be seen in his painting Hartington Square.

Gore painted a series of 32 landscapes in Richmond Park during the last months of his life. His painting 'From a Window in Cambrian Road, Richmond' shows the view from a top-floor window at the rear of 6 Cambrian Road, near the park's Cambrian Gate entrance, where he and his family moved to in 1913. This may be the last picture Gore worked on before his death. According to Tate curator Helena Bonett, Gore's early death from pneumonia, two months before what would have been his 36th birthday, was brought on by his painting outdoors in Richmond Park in the cold and wet winter months.

Gore's painting 'Richmond Park', thought to have been painted in the autumn of 1913 or shortly before the artist's death in March 1914, was exhibited at the Paterson and Carfax Gallery in 1920. In 1939, it was exhibited in Warsaw, Helsinki and Stockholm by the British Council as 'Group of Trees'. It is now in the collection of the Tate Gallery under its original title but is not currently on display. It is not certain where in the park the picture was made but a row of trees close to the pond near Cambrian Gate has a very close resemblance to those in the painting. Another Gore painting, with the same title (Richmond Park), painted in 1914, is at the Ashmolean Museum. His painting 'Wood in Richmond Park' is in the Birmingham Art Gallery's collection.

Two of Gore's artworks, 'Brighton Pier' and 'Richmond Houses', appear in the first number of the landmark modernist journal, BLAST, published some three months after Gore's death. It also featured an obituary piece by Wyndham Lewis, who edited the magazine, eulogising Gore's "dogged, almost romantic industry, his passion for the delicate objects set in the London atmosphere around him, his grey conception of the artist's life, his gentleness and fineness, [which] would have matured into an abundant personal art".

Spencer Gore gave John Doman Turner artistic training from 1908 to 1913 in a series of thirty letters. The teaching was probably carried out via correspondence because Doman Turner was deaf. The letters are now held in the Gore family collection. Doman Turner was a member of the Camden Town Group, having been elected by Gore, but was shy and unsure of his abilities, which probably led him to resign his membership of the London Group soon after it was formed on 27 November 1913.

He died at Richmond, Surrey, on 27 March 1914, aged 35 and was buried in Hertingfordbury in Hertfordshire, where his mother lived.

This is an edited version of the Wikipedia entry for Spencer Gore.

You can view a selection of Gore's paintings on the ArtUK website.

Header image: Spencer Gore 'From a Window in Cambrian Road, Richmond' 1913, Photo © Tate, CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported)