SPURLING, 'Jack' Robert Charles

1870 - 1933

John Robert Charles Spurling, invariably know as ‘Jack’, was born at Hackney, London December 1870, son of Charles Spurling (23 April 1830-1902), a prosperous East India & Colonial broker, and his wife Mary née McAllan, who married at St John the Baptist Church, Kentish Town, London on 12 April 1860. In 1881, Jack was a 10-year-old, living at 27 Compton Terrace, Islington, London with his parents, 50-year-old Charles, who was born at Shotley, Suffolk which may have given the aspiring artist his first contact with ships and the sea, and 51-year-old mother Mary, who was born at St Pancras, with four siblings, Bessie Matilda 16, Lottie Ellen 14, Louie Maria 12 and Charles Andrew 7, all born at Hackney. Before his marriage, Jack occupied much of his time by sketching ships in the East India Docks at Blackwall and at the age pf 16. first went to sea on board the ship 'Astoria', with a cargo of coal bound for Shanghai. He suffered a severe fall and ended up hospitalised in China, where he took to his passion of painting ships. The downtime provided him with the opportunity to earn a second mate’s certificate and he joined the Blue Anchor Line as a junior officer with whom he remained for seven years. He married at Brentford, Middlesex in 1893, actress Helena Alice Emma Humble (1869-1952) and obtained work as an actor in George Edwards’ musical productions whilst continuing with his painting as a hobby. In 1921 he was a 50-year-old professional actor living at 16 Cowley Road, Lambeth, London with a 38-year-old 'wife' Gertrude, who was born at Ipswich. His ship portraits came to the attention of Frederick Hook, editor of the nautical magazine 'The Blue Peter', the initial selection of paintings proved an immediate success and Spurling was commissioned for more works for the magazine over several years. Another contributor to 'The Blue Peter' was author Basil Lubbock (1876-1944) and together they wrote a series of commercial sailing books. John Robert Charles Spurling was of Lake View, Stock Road, Billericay, Essex when he died on 24 October 1933. He is related to the Shotley painter 'Jack' John Henry Forster Spurling.

Works by This Artist