Portrait of Alice Greville, 1930s

Pencil

 

Spencer was always in demand for portrait drawings and this is an interesting example of his numerous studies of local people. Alice Hickman (1906-2000) married photographer Norman Greville, the owner of shops in Maidenhead and then Marlow. Alice was known as a beauty with a mischievous and flirtatious manner. The Maidenhead shop contained a photographic studio, but Greville also sold artists’ materials, which may explain how he met and achieved a rapport with Spencer, hence this portrait drawing. Unusually, the couple commissioned a later oil portrait of Alice, from an artist now unknown; it follows the sketch quite closely, perhaps at the behest of the Grevilles. The well-known wedding photograph of Spencer and Patricia Preece in 1937 has a Greville’s stamp on the back. During the war, Norman Greville worked in photo reconnaissance with the RAF and Alice helped run the shops. The couple were later divorced, Norman marrying a WAAF he had met during the war, and Alice, who had become unwell, spending some years in mental institutions. In the 1950s Spencer purchased a simple camera from the Maidenhead shop in order to record his paintings.

Lent by a private collector