Steven Spurrier RA RBA ROI (1878-1961): Drawing History II

Explore Panter & Hall’s exhibition as part of London Art Week Digital. Panter & Hall’s galleries are also open by appointment.

In an age before the camera became the principle means of social record and the flickering screen in every house monopolised domestic entertainment, the printed word in the form of daily and weekly journals still provided the man in the street with his window on the rest of the world. At the turn of the last century, Steven Spurrier left a brief period of employment with his silver-smith father to embark on a career as a fulltime illustrator. By the 1930s he was to become one of the nation’s most celebrated news artists, in constant demand by the leading papers and periodicals of the day.

Early on Spurrier established his career as a leading graphic artist while continuing to paint full time with some success; his 1913 Royal Academy exhibit was purchased by the Tsarina of Russia. At the outbreak of war Spurrier enlisted in the Artists’ Rifles before being transferred to the navy as Dazzle Camouflage Officer on the Clyde. In the 1920s Spurrier became every editor’s choice; his reputation for never missing a deadline, however short notice and his technical facility, kept him constantly in work, particularly with The Illustrated London News. He illustrated every issue of the Radio Times for decades.

In the 1930s he was introduced to the Circus world by Dame Laura Knight. Her introduction to the Mills Brothers of Bertram Mills led to a lifelong fascination with life under the big top. He was a great admirer of Thomas Rowlandson’s satires on regency life and felt he had a similar service to offer his modern day public.

He was a long serving Royal Academician and council member. The Royal Society of British Artists held the last exhibition before his death, opened by Sir Charles Wheeler PRA. With the discovery of this wonderful collection of original drawings and inks and through the ensuing exhibitions, Panter & Hall intend to bring Spurrier’s remarkable talent to a new generation of collectors. His work is held in The Tate and the National Portrait Gallery, London.