James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx (1916-1995) Prime Minister

Ruskin Spear (1911 - 1990)

Oil on canvas

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© Courtesy of the artist's estate/Bridgeman Art Library

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  • About the work
    Location
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Palace of Westminster (long-term loans)
  • About the artist
    Ruskin Spear, known chiefly as a painter of portraits and landscapes, was born and lived throughout his life in Hammersmith, west London. His father was a coach painter and his ambitious mother expected him to live up to the names she chose for him: Augustus, John, Ruskin, after the celebrated British artists Augustus John (1878–1961) and John Ruskin (1819–1900). He won a scholarship to Hammersmith School of Art at the age of fifteen, and another scholarship to the Royal College of Art, where he studied from 1931 to 1934. Spear executed commissions for the War Artists Advisory Committee and took part in the ‘Recording Britain’ scheme, sponsored by the Pilgrim Trust, from 1940 to 1945. He was elected Associate of the Royal Academy in 1944 and Royal Academician in 1954. From 1948 to 1975 he was tutor at the Royal College of Art and was made President of the London Group in 1949. His first solo exhibition was held at the Leicester Galleries in 1951. He was awarded a CBE in 1979 and a retrospective exhibition of his work was held at the Royal Academy in 1980.
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  • Details
    Title
    James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx (1916-1995) Prime Minister
    Date
    Medium
    Oil on canvas
    Dimensions
    height: 92.00 cm, width: 71.50 cm
    Acquisition
    Purchased from Sotheby's, 31 January 1979
    Inscription
    br: Ruskin Spear
    Provenance
    Painted for Jesus College, Oxford; sold through Sotheby's, London, 'Modern British Drawings, Paintings and Sculpture' sale, on 31 January 1979 (Lot 246) as 'Study for the portrait of the Rt. Hon. Sir Harold Wilson, M.P.'; from which sale purchased by the Department of the Environment
    GAC number
    14430