Spencer Gore

The Artist’s Wife


Not on display

Spencer Gore 1878–1914
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 765 × 636 mm
frame: 918 × 790 × 80 mm
Presented by Frederick Gore, the artist's son 1983

Catalogue entry


Gore married Mary Johanna Kerr, known as Mollie, in January 1912. They first met in 1911, possibly introduced by Gore’s friend the artist Albert Rutherston. Mollie came from Edinburgh where she trained as a dancer at the Opera, and also modelled for the painter Charles Hodge Mackie (1862–1920). In London she knew a number of artists and art students, possibly modelling for them, and through this circle met Rutherston and Gore.1 Gore painted her portrait several times both before and after they married. In 1911 he painted at least four: The Balustrade, Mornington Crescent (Leeds City Art Gallery),2 The Artist’s Wife (Birmingham City Art Gallery),3 Mrs S.F. Gore in the Garden of Rowlandson House (private collection)4 and The Artist’s Wife, Mornington Crescent (Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, Wellington).5 In 1913 he painted The Gas Cooker (Tate T00496), which shows Mollie at work in the kitchen of their first home together, a flat at 2 Houghton Place NW1.
Although Gore was primarily a painter of landscapes, urban scenes and figure studies, portraits were nevertheless a recurrent if occasional part of his output. These consist principally of pictures of Mollie, painting more of her than anyone else; his other portraits also number North London Girl (Tate T03561), a picture of the woman who made the tea at 19 Fitzroy Street, and Portrait of Stanislawa de Karlowska c.1913 (private collection).6 Of his self-portraits there is one from c.1906 in Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery,7 one which belonged to Robert Bevan entitled Conversation Piece and Self-Portrait 1910 (private collection)8 in which the reflection in the mirror of an overmantel is indebted to Walter Sickert, and the well-known, modernistic image in the National Portrait Gallery of 1914 (fig.1). All of Gore’s forays into portraiture are informal in character, and usually naturalistic.

Robert Upstone
May 2009


Information from the artist’s son, Frederick Gore.
Reproduced in Spencer Frederick Gore 1878–1914, exhibition catalogue, Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London 1983 (13).
Reproduced ibid. (14).
Reproduced ibid. (17).
Reproduced in The Painters of Camden Town 1905–1920, exhibition catalogue, Christie’s, London 1988 (6).
Reproduced in Spencer Gore in Richmond, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Richmond 1996, p.11.
Reproduced in Wendy Baron, The Camden Town Group, London 1979, no.26.
Information from Valerie Mendes, Curator of Textiles & Dress, Victoria and Albert Museum. For more on this, see Meaghan Clarke, ‘Sex and the City: The Metropolitan New Woman’, The Camden Town Group, Tate 2011, http://www.tate.org.uk.

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