This painting by Richard Ball Spencer is of the Perthshire, a three-masted barque sailing off Ailsa Craig. The Perthshire was built in Dundee in 1874 and was owned by Thomas Law of 123 Hope Street, Glasgow. The red ensign flying on the mizzenmast indicates it was a British merchant or passenger ship. The owner may well have commissioned the painting to commemorate its maiden voyage. Ailsa Craig, pictured to the far left, is a small uninhabited island off the west mainland of Scotland in the outer Firth of Clyde. The island is made up of volcanic rock which was quarried in the past and is now only used as a source of microgranite to make curling stones. The island is known by a number of different names including A' Chreag (the rock) and Creag Alasdair (Alasdair's rock). It was also sometimes referred to in the past as ‘Paddy’s Milestone’ as it marked the halfway of the sea journey Belfast to Glasgow made by Irish Emigrants seeking work.
Richard Ball Spencer was born in London’s East End on 11 November, 1812 to John and Elizabeth Ball. His father was a grocer and the family lived at 106 York Road in Mile End. Both Richard and his brother Thomas were given their mother’s maiden name as their middle names.
By 1841, he had established himself as a marine painter specialising in ship portraits and was influenced by artists such as Joseph Heard (1799-1859), William John Huggins (1781-1845) and Robert Salmon (c1775-1845). He spent his time travelling to trading ports around the British coast as well as the nearby London docks of Brunswick Wharf and the Isle of Dogs. There he found a ready market amongst the ship owners and captains who commissioned him to paint portraits of their ships.
He married Caroline Gibson on 16 December, 1843 and the couple lived at his house in York Road where they started a family. One of their sons, William Ball Spencer (1854-1923) also became a marine artist. After the death of his wife in the late 1850’s, he moved to 96 Jubilee Street, Mile End where he continued to live for some years. Although he does not appear to have exhibited in London, Spencer regularly appeared in the London directories as a marine artist and earned a respectable income from his many commissions over the years.
He spent his final years living with his daughter and son-in-law at 8 St Stephens Road, Milton Terrace, East Ham. He died in East Ham in 1897. Examples of his work are held by Aberdeen Maritime Museum, Bristol Museum, Falmouth Art Gallery, Government Art Collections, Guernsey Museum, Kirkleatham Museum, Merseyside Maritime Museum, National Maritime Museum, Plymouth Box Museum, Redcar and Cleveland Council, Science Museum and Thurrock Museum.
|Presentation||The painting is housed in a new, English made gilt frame which is in excellent condition.|
|Condition||As with all of our original antique oil paintings, this work is offered in ready to hang gallery condition, having been professionally cleaned, restored and revarnished.|
|Image Size||22.25 inches x 36.25 inches (56.5cm x 92cm)|
|Framed Size||31 inches x 45 inches (79cm x 114.5cm)|