Spencer Gore

Richmond Park

c.1914

Artist
Spencer Gore 1878–1914
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Frame: 692 x 946 x 73 mm
support: 508 x 762 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by Lady Henry Cavendish-Bentinck 1940
Reference
N05100

Not on display

Catalogue entry

Entry

Richmond Park was just a short distance from Gore’s home at 6 Cambrian Road, the Cambrian Gate entrance being about a hundred yards away. The park must have exerted a strong fascination as it formed the subject of around twenty-five canvases, made in just a few months.1 In this remarkable series of works he retreated from the hard-edged geometry that characterises the pictures he had made in Letchworth Garden City in 1912 and to a certain degree some of those made early in Richmond. Gore rediscovered the poetry and lyricism of pure landscape that had been a characteristic of his earlier work. Yet the Richmond Park series also mark another stride in the artist’s development and ever evolving vision. The loose patches of colour in many of these pictures demonstrate that while he had thoroughly absorbed the style of Paul Cézanne, he had also gone further to find his own unique mode of expression. As a series, rather like all Gore’s work, they possess a spirit of constant transition, each new canvas refining and revising the style and execution of the one before. Although restricted in their subject matter, or perhaps because of it, these pictures display a new breadth and firmness of structure, as well as a remarkable sensitivity and delicacy. Their colour range and harmony is particularly noticeable.
But Gore’s hard work in Richmond Park and great devotion to this series was to lead to his destruction. He followed a regime of painting outdoors, directly before the subject, and in March 1914 he got wet and contracted pneumonia. Within just a few days he was dead.
The Tate picture is among the larger Richmond Park canvases Gore made. It is an austere composition of a row of trees, stretching regularly across the canvas in a band. But Gore lends the scene rhythm and interest by subtle modulations of the paint, applying it in a series of dabs, the warmth of the russet tones contrasting with the cooler, darker colours of the trees and the sky above. This is a winter scene, the bracken now brown, and perhaps the suggestion of a slight mist among the trees. The solitary tree that stands nearer has a guard around it to stop damage from the deer native to the park. Establishing the location of the scene is difficult as the trees in Richmond Park have changed in the intervening period. But a row of trees close to the pond near Cambrian Gate have a very close resemblance and would fit Gore’s usual practice of painting scenes close to home.

Robert Upstone
May 2009

Notes

1
Frederick Gore, ‘Spencer Gore 1878–1914’, in Spencer Gore in Richmond, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Richmond 1996, p.8.

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