Spencer Gore

Houghton Place


Not on display

Spencer Gore 1878–1914
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 515 × 614 mm
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1927

Display caption

Gore moved from 31 Mornington Crescent to a first floor flat on nearby 2 Houghton Place in Spring 1912. This view, painted from his balcony window, shows Amptill Square. Since 1909 Gore became fascinated with his Camden Town surroundings. Most of his urban subjects were found within a few metres
of his home and were transformed in his pictures through his vivid use of colouring and strong sense of design.

Ampthill Square and Houghton Place were demolished in 1968 to make way for a tower block known as the Ampthill Estate.

Gallery label, February 2004

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Catalogue entry


With Walter Sickert as his best man, in January 1912 Gore married Mary Johanna Kerr, known as Mollie. He gave up his bachelor lodgings at 6 Mornington Crescent and moved with Mollie to a flat at 2 Houghton Place, a short distance away, close to the mass of railway lines snaking out of Euston. At Mornington Crescent Gore had painted a great number of pictures showing the view from his window, and in his new accommodation he continued this practice. Houghton Place shows the view from the flat’s first-floor window towards Ampthill Square. The houses in Houghton Place had windows on the first floor which opened out onto a balcony, and this was evidently the level on which the Gores’ flat was located. Access to the balcony allowed him to paint views along the street at a less oblique angle than if he had had to rely on painting from the window.
Ampthill Square was a sizeable, rhomboid-shaped space with gardens at the centre. These had been bisected by railway lines passing through its centre, cutting the garden in two and punching through the terraces of houses. Gore’s view looks south towards the railway cutting, so he must have been able to hear the frequent passing of chugging locomotives; but the painting reveals nothing of this, instead depicting the peaceful, Douanier Rousseau-esque screen of vegetation. It was probably from Ampthill Square gardens that Gore showed the view down onto the tracks in Nearing Euston Station 1911 (fig.1),1 whose foreground is occupied by a passing train. As the shortest route, it was probably along Ampthill Square and across its bridge over the railway that Gore would have walked to visit Sickert, who lived nearby at Rowlandson House on Hampstead Road (see Tate N05088). Indeed, the viewpoint of Houghton Place looks in the direction of Sickert’s art school.

Robert Upstone
May 2009


Reproduced in Spencer Frederick Gore 1878–1914, exhibition catalogue, Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London 1974 (26).
Reproduced ibid., (29).
Reproduced ibid., (30).
Notebook B357, pp.26–7, Booth Collection, Archives of British Library of Political and Economic Science, London School of Economics.
Harold Gilman, letter to Lucien Pissarro, undated [1914], Lucien Pissarro Papers, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
Nicholas de Grey, letter to Lucien Pissarro, June 1914, Lucien Pissarro Papers, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

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