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London Whelk Woman

© the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

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The artist was born in Hammersmith in London. He was disabled by polio as a child but at the age of 15 he won a scholarship to the local School of Art. Many of his paintings are of the streets and pubs in the working class areas in which he had grown up. He painted in the controlled, realist style of Sickert whose work he admired.

Spear was a skilled portrait painter with the ability to relate to his sitters. Here, he captures the personality of the whelk woman – a formidable street character who it would be unwise to provoke!

Herbert Art Gallery & Museum



London Whelk Woman




oil on canvas


H 76 x W 50.5 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

purchased, 1961

Work type



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Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

Jordan Well, Coventry, West Midlands CV1 5QP England

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