Spencer Gore

From a Window in Cambrian Road, Richmond

1913

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 559 x 686 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by subscribers 1920
Reference
N03558

Catalogue entry

Entry

6 Cambrian Road, Richmond
Fig.1
6 Cambrian Road, Richmond
Photo © Tate
In the early summer of 1913 Spencer Gore, his wife Mollie and baby daughter Elizabeth moved from their flat in Houghton Place, Mornington Crescent, to 6 Cambrian Road, Richmond. Mollie was pregnant with their son Frederick, who was born in November 1913, and the move must have been precipitated by a need for more space and also a desire for a healthier environment, away from the smoky position of Houghton Place between the railways lines. At Cambrian Road the family had a whole house, in a pleasant road in a leafy, residential area of the town (fig.1). Another attraction must have been the proximity of Richmond Park, with access through the Cambrian Gate at the end of the street, barely 100 yards away.
At their new home, Gore immediately revived his practice of painting views from the front and back of the house. In From a Window in Cambrian Road, Richmond, Gore shows the view from a top-floor window at the rear. Many of the buildings visible were part of a hospital in Grove Road. The whole area has now been redeveloped and looks very different, but some of the buildings on the right, perhaps ward blocks, are still present. The bare branches of the trees in the foreground suggest that this must be a late autumn or early winter scene.
The paint is very thinly applied and the squaring-up shows through clearly, indicating the picture is not finished. A very similar composition, but with a slightly different view suggesting it was painted from another rear window, belonged to Gore’s friend Robert Bevan (private collection).1 This slightly smaller picture has a more subdued palette to the Tate work, and the paint is more thickly and richly applied. It may have been that Gore was intending to return to the Tate painting to complete it. However, the picture shows evidence of Gore continuing the modernist approach he had developed at Letchworth, stylising forms and using areas of flat colour (see Tate T01859). Indeed, the whole scene is ‘flattened’ out; there is no attempt to create an impression of recession and this is apparently a quite deliberate action, rather than a symptom of its incomplete state. Two studies for the painting survive: a graphite and blue pencil drawing on wove paper that has been torn carefully into three pieces (two pieces shown in fig.2),2 and a squared-up and numbered graphite and blue pencil drawing on wove paper of the whole composition on a single sheet, from which the oil must have been transferred (fig.3). Gore’s normal procedure when making a painting was either to stand in front of his subject and paint direct, or else to make careful drawings and then execute the oil in his studio, as in the present case.

Robert Upstone
May 2009

Notes

1
1913, 20 x 16 in; Spencer Frederick Gore 1878–1914, exhibition catalogue, Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London 1983 (42).
2
The three sections are 188 x 220 mm, 190 x 262 mm and 375 x 445 mm.
3
Blast, no.1, June 1914, reproduced pl.XX.
4
David Peters Corbett, ‘The Geography of Blast: Landscape, Modernity and English Painting, 1914–1930’, in David Peters Corbett, Ysanne Holt and Fiona Russell (eds.), The Geographies of Englishness: Landscape and the National Past, 1880–1940, New Haven and London 2002, pp.120–1.
5
Walter Sickert, letter to Nan Hudson, Friday [?April 1914], Tate Archive TGA 9125/5, no.14.
6
Harold Gilman, letter to Esther Pissarro, undated [1914], Pissarro Papers, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
7
Walter Sickert, letter to Ethel Sands, undated, Tate Archive TGA 9125/5.

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