SPURLING, John Robert Charles

1870 - 1933

John Robert Charles Spurling, invariably know as ‘Jack’ was born in Hackney, London in 1870, son of Charles Spurling, a prosperous East India & Colonial broker, and his wife Mary née McAllan, who married at St Pancras, London in 1860. In 1881, 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, he occupied much of his time by sketching ships in the East India Docks at Blackwall and first went to sea at 16, onboard the ship ASTORIA, with a cargo of coal bound for Shanghai. He suffered a fateful fall and ended up hospitalized in China, where he took to his passion of painting ships. The downtime provided him 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 Humble and obtained work as an actor in George Edwards’ musical productions whilst continuing with his painting as a hobby. 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 a number of years. Another contributor to 'The Blue Peter' was author Basil Lubbock (1876-1944) and together they wrote a series of commercial sailing books. He died at Greenwich, London in 1933. He is related to the Shotley painter John Henry Forster Spurling [q.v.]




Works by This Painter