William Barnett Spencer (1850-1880)

British

W.B.Spencer was an accomplished ship’s portraitist who worked in great Britain during the last half of the nineteenth century. He is believed to be the brother of Richard Barnett Spencer, another accomplished sea painter who worked during the same period. W.B Spencer worked mainly on commission, creating sharply detailed images of sailing vessels for commanders and ship owners alike.

This artist is most noted for portraits of the early iron ships that began to emerge in the 1870s. His paintings of these clipper-like vessels show the excellent eye for deck and rigging detail that was essential for attracting commissions and establishing a reputation as a skilled ship painter. Spencer’s compositions usually feature lively backgrounds filled with additional shipping and maritime activity.

Both Spencer’s are also known to have painted sea battles based on engravings by other artists, but in their own distinctive style. Although they were infrequent exhibitors, examples of their work may be seen in several of the world’s leading maritime collections.

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