Gilbert Spencer was a committed landscape painter, adding his unique voice to the great tradition of English pastoral painting. The Secretary of the Royal Academy, Sidney Hutchinson, remarked that Spencer ‘might well be called the John Constable of theTwentieth Century.’
These abilities may be seen in his ‘Man at a Sluice Gate’, and It is curious to note just how similar the treatment of water is to Stanley Spencer’s ‘Swan Upping at Cookham’, 1915-19, Tate Collection.
This painting was acquired directly from the artist by the celebrated collector, Wilfred Evill. As a lawyer, Evill represented both Gilbert and Stanley Spencer, as well as the young Lucian Freud. Interestingly, both Spencer’s painted his portrait, and the work by Gilbert dates to the same year as ‘The Sluice Gate’, so it might well have been something that Evill saw in his studio.
Gilbert Spencer, portrait of WILFRED EVILL, 1931-1932
Stanely Spencer, portrait of WILFRED EVILL, 1942