Richard Ball Spencer and his son, William Ball Spencer (1854–1923), were primarily east-London-based painters of ship portraits, working in a similar style. Most examples are the broadside views characteristic of ‘pierhead’ painters with open-sea or other standard backgrounds inserted. It has been observed, for example, that at least 16 by Richard in UK public collections include Dover Castle. They also occasionally did (or copied) other marine views and copied earlier naval battle paintings by other artists. Richard was the son of John Spencer and Elizabeth Ball, who married at St James’s, Piccadilly, on 15th April 1810. He was born on 11th November 1812 and baptised on 6th December at St Pancras Old Church, London (Middlesex). When he married Caroline Gibson on 16th December 1843 at St George’s in the East, Stepney, his profession was given as ‘Painter’, that of his father John as a grocer and that of his wife’s father as a ‘Letter caster’.
Adapted by Pieter van der Merwe from painting entries originally written for the National Maritime Museum database: see NMM BHC3726 (R. B. Spencer) and NMM BHC3286 (W. B. Spencer), with thanks to Sue Peacock, a descendant, and Martin Hopkinson.
Text source: Art Detective