The Fairy on the Waterlily Leaf (c1909)
Drawing, Pen and ink on paper, 662mm x 537mm
Spencer was a student at the Slade when a Miss White of Bourne End commissioned him to illustrate her story of the love of a prince for a fairy. The precision and detail are reminiscent of Pre-Raphaelitism and the best English book illustration. The figures were based on Dorothy Wooster, the butcher’s daughter, and Edmunds, a professional model at the Slade, who appear by a sandy bank of the Thames where the Spencer children used to play. In one of the artist’s many later inventories of his works, he listed it as ‘Girl standing on water and boy with mandolin on bank’, 1910. Rejected by Miss White who thought the girl too hefty, he gave the drawing as a wedding present to Ruth Lowy, later Lady Gollancz, in 1919.