Fairy Goblins Emerging from High Corn (c.1906)
Drawing, Pen and black ink on paper, 501mm x 433mm
Spencer’s earliest drawings, ‘a very odd assortment… greatly in advance, both in performance and imagination, of the usual work of boys of his age’, according to his brother Gilbert, were drawn from his own invention, reproductions, book illustrations, and the scenes around him. For a family in which literature, music and religion were key interests, art was less central, but through their conventional Victorian taste he became aware of some popular Pre-Raphaelite pictures and paintings at the Royal Academy. Books were plentiful in Fernlea and book illustration became a key source for him. Here four figures, two male and two female – possibly pixies – appear in costume in a lush meadow reminiscent of Cookham, with an engaging rabbit in the foreground. At this stage, he has not yet learnt how to achieve a totally coherent composition, something in which he later excelled.
Lent by a private collector