Spencer Gore

North London Girl

c.1911–2

Artist
Spencer Gore 1878–1914
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 762 x 610 mm
frame: 814 x 712 x 102 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by J.W. Freshfield 1955
Reference
T00027

Not on display

Display caption

The Camden Town Group held regular gatherings on Saturday afternoons at rooms Sickert had rented in Fitzroy Street. Here patrons were shown new works, given tea and invited to buy paintings. Gore's portrait is of the woman who served the tea on these occasions and kept the rooms tidy. Although perhaps best known for his landscapes, urban scenes and theatre pictures, Gore was a gifted and sensitive portraitist, although he never undertook formal commissions. Here he pays as much attention to the textures, patterns and colours of his sitter's clothes and her surroundings as he does to her face.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

Entry

Sitter

The name of the sitter is not known, but in a letter to the Tate Gallery of October 1960, Gore’s widow Mollie recalled that ‘she was such a nice woman, married, with several children. She kept the rooms clean at 19 Fitzroy Street dispensed tea on Saturday afternoons, looking v. handsome in a black velvet dress.’1 The writer John Woodeson stated that:
Mrs S. Gore informed me that the picture was painted in Mornington Crescent in the second floor front sitting room.2 The woman was employed to clean the studio at 19 Fitzroy Street and later the Gore’s home at Houghton Place, and occasionally babysat for Mrs. Gore. She was married with six children, and lived not far away in Cumberland Market.3
Gore’s Woman Standing in a Window c.1908 (Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, Canada) appears to be another portrait of the same person. The sitter in his Nude 1910 (fig.1), which once belonged to Gilman, seems to have an even closer similarity to the sitter in North London Girl.

19 Fitzroy Street

It had been Sickert’s idea in spring 1907 to rent first-floor rooms at 19 Fitzroy Street where works by a loose association of artists with whom he felt in sympathy might be displayed and sold. The founder members were Sickert, Gore, Gilman, Walter Russell, William Rothenstein and Albert Rutherston, who were joined shortly afterwards by Lucien Pissarro, Ethel Sands and Nan Hudson, and in 1908 by Robert Bevan. It was from this nucleus that later the Camden Town Group would partly be drawn. The Fitzroy Street painters held regular gatherings on Saturday afternoons, where works on show would be discussed and potential patrons invited to purchase. It was partly an attempt to break free from a reliance on dealers, who were not always sympathetic to their work, and therefore gain a degree of independence. Sickert explained in a letter to Hudson that in setting up the Fitzroy Street salon it was his intention to:

Women in interiors

Ownership and date

Robert Upstone
May 2009

Notes

1
Mollie Gore, letter to the Tate Gallery, October 1960, Tate Catalogue file.
2
6 Mornington Crescent, where Gore lodged with the local vicar before marrying.
3
Spencer Gore 1878–1914, exhibition catalogue, The Minories, Colchester 1970 (39).
4
Walter Sickert, letter to Nan Hudson, 1907, Tate Archive TGA 9125/5; quoted in Wendy Baron, Perfect Moderns: A History of the Camden Town Group, Aldershot and Vermont 2000, p.26.
5
Walter Sickert, letter to Nan Hudson, 1907, Tate Archive TGA 9125/5; quoted in Baron 2000, p.24.
6
Louis Fergusson, ‘Souvenir of Camden Town: A Commemorative Exhibition’, Studio, vol.90, February 1930, pp.111–12.
7
Walter Sickert, letter to Nan Hudson, 1907, Tate Archive TGA 9125/5; quoted in Baron 2000, p.26.
8
Reproduced in Sickert: Paintings, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy, London 1992 (52), and Wendy Baron, Sickert: Paintings and Drawings, New Haven and London 2006, no.267.
9
Wendy Baron, Sickert, London 1973, no.218.
10
Walter Sickert, letter to Ethel Sands and Nan Hudson, Tate Archive TGA 9125/5; quoted in Royal Academy 1992 (67).
11
Baron 2000, no.28.
12
Spencer Gore, letter to John Doman Turner, undated, private collection, no.14.
13
Reproduced in Modern Painters: The Camden Town Group, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2008 (48).
14
Reproduced Harold Gilman 1876–1919, exhibition catalogue, Arts Council, London 1981 (63).
15
Pall Mall Gazette, 3 June 1908; quoted in Royal Academy 1992 (67).
16
Reproduced in Baron 2000, no.30.
17
Reproduced in Royal Academy 1992 (53).

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