Gilbert Spencer The Beginning of an Event in History: The Tolpuddle Martyrs c.1937

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Artwork details

Artist
Gilbert Spencer 1892–1979
Title
The Beginning of an Event in History: The Tolpuddle Martyrs
Date c.1937
Medium Watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 559 x 800 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1944
Reference
N05550
Not on display

Display caption

This large watercolour is a design for a mural. It reflects the political mood in Britain before the Second World War. Opinions were polarised between support for the left and the right, and Gilbert Spencer sought a landscape subject that would show his commitment.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs of 1834 were a popular example of trade union history. They were farm labourers from Tolpuddle in Dorset who were prosecuted for combining together to insist on an increase in their pay.  Gilbert Spencer shows his characteristic farming subject in the light of historic social unrest. The mural was never painted.

September 2004

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