Spencer Gore

Inez and Taki


Not on display

Spencer Gore 1878–1914
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 406 × 508 mm
frame: 608 × 710 × 52 mm
Purchased 1948

Display caption

The title of this picture is the name of a double act which Spencer Gore saw at the Alhambra Theatre of Varieties in Leicester Square. The couple are playing lyre guitars, instruments common in the early nineteenth century, but by this date an eccentric choice.

Gore was fascinated by the magic of the music hall, and frequently chose unexpected routines as subjects. The Alhambra, especially, was known for its spectacular ballets and acrobatic turns. Gore went to the theatre several times each week, and made sketches from his seat in the audience.

Gallery label, February 2004

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Catalogue entry



Pre-dating any contact with Walter Sickert, Gore was passionately interested in the potential of subjects he observed in the theatre, ballet and music hall. This interest was longstanding, and he had himself performed in many amateur theatricals. His son Frederick Gore has written that:
Gore, whose great uncles had founded the Old Stagers together with the I Zingari – strolling cricketers and players – belonged to a family and circle of related families in which during at least five generations everyone had been expected to sing or dance and act. Whether his cousins wished to raise money for university extension lectures at Market Drayton, the Boys Brigade at Keswick, or soldiers’ and sailors’ orphans at Gravesend, Gore’s talent was much in demand as comic policeman, Victorian father or singer of character songs ... ‘The grouping of six Eastern ladies’, said the press cutting from Keswick in 1900, ‘in the character song by Mr Gore (who is evidently an accomplished actor) presented a very pretty effect and was loudly applauded’.1
Before his marriage, Gore went to the music hall every Monday and Tuesday evening, favouring the Alhambra Theatre of Varieties located on the eastern side of Leicester Square, which stood on the site of what is today the Odeon Cinema (fig.1). It was the largest music hall in London, accommodating up to 3,500 people. Once home to the Royal Panopticon of Science and Art and later a circus, the building opened as the Alhambra Palace Music Hall on 10 December 1860. The interior was extravagantly ornate and, as its name suggests, followed a Moorish theme (fig.2). During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the Alhambra was famous for staging spectacular ballets, operettas and promenade concerts to enthusiastic crowds. The last performance at the Alhambra was held on 1 September 1936; shortly after, the building was demolished and a year later the Odeon Cinema was built in its place (fig.3).



Robert Upstone
May 2009


Frederick Gore, ‘Spencer Gore: A Memoir by his Son’, in Spencer Frederick Gore 1878–1914, exhibition catalogue, Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London 1974, pp.6–7.
Spencer Gore, letter to John Doman Turner, 12 January 1910, private collection, no.23.
Reproduced in Basil S. Long, Catalogue of the Constantine Alexander Ionides Collection, vol.1, London 1925, pl.11.
Art Journal, 1904, p.286; Burlington Magazine, vol.5, 1904, p.535.
Reproduced in The Painters of Camden Town 1905–1920, exhibition catalogue, Christie’s, London 1988 (64).
Walter Sickert, ‘A Perfect Modern’, New Age, 9 April 1914, in Anna Gruetzner Robins (ed.), Walter Sickert: The Complete Writings on Art, Oxford 2000, p.355.
Spencer Gore, letter to John Doman Turner, July 1909, private collection, no.18.
Spencer Gore, letter to John Doman Turner, 1 May 1910, private collection, no.25.
Reproduced in Spencer Frederick Gore 1878–1914, exhibition catalogue, Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London 1983 (1).
Blast, no.1, June 1914, p.150.
Tate Catalogue file.
See S. Sadie (ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, vol.2, London 1984, p.584.
‘The Variety Theatres’, Times, 29 January 1912, p.10.
‘The “Turkey Trot” at the Hippodrome’, Times, 6 February 1912, p.10.
‘The Hippodrome’, Times, 25 July 1911, p.10.
‘The Hippodrome’, Times, 8 August 1911, p.10.
c.1910, 203 x 279 mm; reproduced in The Camden Town Group, exhibition catalogue, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven 1980 (55).
c.1910, 206 x 284 mm, Museum of Modern Art, New York; reproduced ibid. (54).
Frank Rutter, ‘Round the Galleries’, Sunday Times, 26 March 1911, p.18.
Sir Louis Fergusson, letter to the Tate Gallery, October 1960, Tate Catalogue file.
‘Sir Louis Fergusson: Public Servant and Connoisseur’, Times, 11 January 1962, p.15.

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