In the manner of his marine art, John Charles Robert Spurling settled on the straight-forward name of Jack. Fitting for a man who perceived the magnificence of sail, portraying it forth with beauty and realism of the highest order. His body of work entranced his audiences, including a favorable impression on a young Montague Dawson. He would produce magnificent originals which were used to illustrate the penultimate set of books on clipper ships, in concert with author Basil Lubbock.
Born in England in 1870, he first went to sea at 16, onboard the ship ASTORIA, with a cargo of coal bound for Shanghai. He suffered a fateful fall and ended up hospitalized in China, where he took to his passion of painting ships. The downtime provided him the opportunity to earn a second mate’s certificate, and he joined the Blue Anchor Line as a junior officer. He served for seven years, and spent years as a stage actor following this.
Through it all, he painted. His art earned him a position illustrating the covers of “The Blue Peter” which in turn carried his name to the corners of the earth as a highly accomplished marine artist. Absolutely confident in not only his ability but his knowledge and research, Spurling and the publication offered up $10,000 to anyone who could successfully dispute the rig of one of his paintings. No one ever did. As the international code signal from where the magazine took its name, his art was “ready to sail”. His strengths of composition and detail are unparalleled.