Spencer, Gilbert

(1892 – 1979)

The Artist's Daughter, Gillian

Signed and dated 1942

Pencil on paper
10 1/2 x 9 in. (27 x 23 cm.)


The Artists Daughter; thence by descent

Speaking on Gilbert Spencer’s work, John Rothenstein wrote that ‚Äú[His portraits] are notable for the quality of the insight into character that they show ‚Äì an insight in which remorselessness candour is tempered by the warmest affection ‚Äì and for the fineness of the heads’ construction.‚Äú Modern English Painters,1952.

Through their communal up bringing and Slade School training, the work of the Gilbert and Stanley Spencer is clearly united by a common thread ‚Äì manifest in their devotion to accurate observation, intense sincerity and impeccable technique. Gilbert proved an accomplished portraitist, painting prominent figures, rural and urban workers, as well as many images of family and friends. 

The artist’s daughter, Gillian, was born on October 21st, 1936, so would have been around twelve at the time of this sitting. 

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Spencer, Gilbert

1892 – 1979

Painter, especially of landscapes, draughtsman, teacher and writer, and brother of the painter Stanley Spencer. Born at Cookham, Berkshire. Spencer studied at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, woodcarving at the Royal College of Art, 1911-12, then with Fred Brown and Henry Tonks at the Slade School of Fine Art, 1913-20. Between 1915 and 1919 he served in the army. Spencer had his first one-man show at the Goupil Gallery in 1923; he also exhibited at the RA (he was elected RA in 1960), NEAC, (of which he was a member), Leicester Galleries, RSA, Redfern Gallery and many other venues. Although he produced notable wall paintings for Holywell Manor, Oxford, 1934-6, Spencer made his name as a landscape artist working mainly in the English southern counties. At various times he taught at the Royal College of Art, Glasgow School of Art and Camberwell, serving meanwhile as an Official War Artist, 1940-3. His book Stanley Spencer appeared in 1961 and his autobiography, Memoirs of a Painter, in 1974. A retrospective exhibition was held at Reading in 1964. The Tate and many other public collections hold his work. He sometimes just signed his work GS. He lived in Hampstead and towards the end of his life near Reading, Berkshire.


Gilbert Spencer
Tennis – viewed from a gap in the trees, circa 1966