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Percy Spence

1868 – 1933

Percy Spence, born in Balmain, grew up in Fiji and began art classes in Sydney in about 1888. Spence built his reputation on black and white drawings for the Bulletin and other publications. He was a founding member of the Sydney Sketch Club of the Art Society of New South Wales, with which he exhibited. He was an accomplished portraitist; his portrait drawing of Robert Louis Stevenson, made while Spence was living with Streeton and Roberts at Balmoral, is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London, as is his portrait of Phil May. In 1895 Spence moved to London, illustrating Ernest Favenc's Tales of Young Australia that year and going on to forge a successful career as an illustrator for magazines including the Graphic and Punch. Between 1878 and 1904 he made many portraits of politicians, which were subsequently engraved. He was a member of the Chelsea Arts Club and a well-regarded exhibitor at the Royal Academy.

Updated 2018