Spencer, Gilbert

(1892 – 1979)

Portrait of a Soldier, circa 1940

SKU: 9251

Pencil on paper

12 1/2 x 10 in. (32 x 25 cm.)
Height: 32cm
Width: 25cm


The Artists Daughter; thence by descent

The British Army adopted this form of helmet, initially known as the Brodie’ helmet, as its standard head protection in 1915. However, it was not until spring 1916 that it began to be issued to troops in large numbers. Many were put into storage and reissued at the outbreak of the Second World War. Modified but similar helmets were worn by British soldiers even until the 1980s. 

The wrinkling on the top part of the chin strap in this sketch appears to be webbing, rather than leather. The sprung webbing strap was not approved until 1936, meaning this portrait likely dates from the Second World War. 

With thanks to Emma Mawdsley of the National Army Museum

Liss Llewellyn are continually seeking to improve the quality of the information on their website. We actively undertake to post new and more accurate information on our stable of artists. We openly acknowledge the use of information from other sites including Wikipedia, artbiogs.co.uk and Tate.org and other public domains. We are grateful for the use of this information and we openly invite any comments on how to improve the accuracy of what we have posted.


Spencer, Gilbert

1892 – 1979

Painter, especially of landscapes, draughtsman, teacher and writer, and brother of the painter Stanley Spencer. Born at Cookham, Berkshire. Spencer studied at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, woodcarving at the Royal College of Art, 1911-12, then with Fred Brown and Henry Tonks at the Slade School of Fine Art, 1913-20. Between 1915 and 1919 he served in the army. Spencer had his first one-man show at the Goupil Gallery in 1923; he also exhibited at the RA (he was elected RA in 1960), NEAC, (of which he was a member), Leicester Galleries, RSA, Redfern Gallery and many other venues. Although he produced notable wall paintings for Holywell Manor, Oxford, 1934-6, Spencer made his name as a landscape artist working mainly in the English southern counties. At various times he taught at the Royal College of Art, Glasgow School of Art and Camberwell, serving meanwhile as an Official War Artist, 1940-3. His book Stanley Spencer appeared in 1961 and his autobiography, Memoirs of a Painter, in 1974. A retrospective exhibition was held at Reading in 1964. The Tate and many other public collections hold his work. He sometimes just signed his work GS. He lived in Hampstead and towards the end of his life near Reading, Berkshire.


Gilbert Spencer
Tennis – viewed from a gap in the trees, circa 1966