The story of the Art Movement of Letchworth Garden City

British Impressionist Landscape avant-garde artist’s  – Spencer Frederick Gore 1878-1914

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Gore was born on 26 May 1878 in Epsom in Surrey, the fourth child of Spencer William Gore (1850–1906) and Amy Gore (née Smith, William’s senior business partner’s daughter). His father was a partner in Smith, Gore & Co. (now Smiths Gore), who were land agents to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in Yorkshire; he was also the winner of the first Lawn Tennis Championship at Wimbledon in 1877. Gore’s childhood was spent in Holywell, Kent. He attended Harrow School from 1892 to 1896 where he discovered his love of art, winning the first Yates Thompson Prize for drawing. He also inherited his father’s sporting abilities, excelling in cricket while at school.

 He trained at the Slade from 1896–9, where he knew Harold Gilman. In 1902 he visited Madrid with Wyndham Lewis, another Slade contemporary. Subsequently, he successfully proposed for the Camden Town Group, later a source of friction. Gore was introduced to Sickert in Dieppe in 1904 by Albert Rutherston, because of his enthusiastic account of the younger artists in London. He was instrumental in Sickert’s return to England to work after a virtual absence of a decade.

He was a founder member of the Camden Town Group and elected its President. In 1911 he was given his only lifetime solo show at the Chenil Gallery in Chelsea. Gore and Sickert were on close terms, and they, on occasion, painted side by side in Mornington Crescent. But Gore moved away from pure impressionism towards a more rigorously modern style, and he both tolerated and encouraged truly advanced art.

In 1912 he organized the new modern decorations for The Cave of the Golden Calf nightclub, drafting in Camden Town Group members Gilman, Ginner, and Lewis, and also Jacob Epstein and Eric Gill. He was in Roger Fry’s Second Post-Impressionist exhibition in 1912, and in 1913 Gore organized the exhibition of ‘English Post-Impressionists, Cubists and Others’ that brought together the varied factions of the London avant-garde.

The summer and autumn of 1912 were spent in Gilman’s house at Letchworth. During this period carried out a lot of experiments and changes that followed; he produced some of his most advanced work. In 1913 he and his young family moved to Richmond. Painting in all weather in Richmond Park, Gore succumbed to pneumonia in March 1914.

Below: Titled: The Cinder Path, in TATE Britain Collection purchase in 1975.

Gore made several paintings while staying with his family at Harold Gilman’s house in Letchworth, a progressive garden city north of London. The composition is anchored by a straight path leading directly away from the viewer towards the town visible on the horizon. Gore was a keen observer and accurate topographer who took an essential naturalist approach to landscape painting. The Cinder Path shows a place on the outskirts of Letchworth. Gore’s perspective means that the path, which is made of industrial waste, recedes vertically into the middle-distance, and the fields and hedges are arranged around it. This was one of the few British pictures exhibited in the influential Second Post-Impressionist

Exhibition organised by Roger Fry in the winter of 1912.

The Cinder Path Tata Britain

Date: 1912   Medium Oil on Canvas  Size: 68.7cm x 78.7cm

The Cinder Path is part of the walkway at the edge of Letchworth Garden City, a scene overlooking the unwinding landscape in the distance towards Hitchin. (Take a visit into the past and enjoying The Garden City’s Greenway Walk click the link for a map. Find the view and walk along the Cinder Path that inspired Spencer Gores for his rural landscape painting.

Life and works of Spencer Frederick Gore 1878 – 1914


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