Before the camera became the principle means of social record and the flickering screen in every house monopolised domestic entertainment, daily and weekly printed journals provided the man in the street with a window on the world. At the turn of the last century, Spurrier, son of a silversmith-designer in the City, embarked as an illustrator. By the 1930s he was one of the nation’s most celebrated new artists, in constant demand by the leading periodicals; throughout the Edwardian period he contributed to Pearson’s Magazine; The Royal Magazine; The Daily Graphic and the weekly Graphic. From 1906 his paintings were exhibited with great success at the royal academy, where his 1913 painting Afternoon was purchased by the Empress of Russia. With the outbreak of World War I Spurrier enlisted in the Artist’s Rifles but he missed active service due to a weak heart. In 1916 he was seconded to Military Intelligence with the Dock Police in Hull where he recorded his experiences in sketch books. His talents were utilised by the War Office with his transfer to the navy as Dazzle Officer on the Clyde. In Glasgow he was responsible for camouflaging the world’s finest flush deck aircraft carrier, HMS Argus, launched in 1918. After the war Spurrier joined The Illustrated London News and the weekly Graphic as ‘Special Artist’. By 1922 his fame was such that he was invited to contribute miniature drawings, complete with folio, to Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. Through the interwar years Spurrier was every editor’s choice; his reputation for never missing a deadline, technical facility, and understanding of print reproduction, kept him constantly in work. His photographic memory allowed him to sit through an important trial and then produce an accurate account with only photographs of the empty court room and shots of the protagonists as prompts.
Spurrier was a prolific exhibitor at all the London institutions including the Royal Academy, his work is currently represented in the Tate Gallery and the V&A.
Please do contact the gallery if you are interested in viewing any of the below works.