Ralph Hedley R.B.A.
Dr Robert Spence Watson

oil on canvas
1164 x 1340 mm
SIGNED b.l.c. R. Hedley 1897


Ralph Hedley: Tyneside Painter,
Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1990-91

Shipley Art Gallery,
Gateshead, NE8 4JB
Reference TWCMS : E8466
Bequeathed by
Robert Spence Watson, 1919  

Ralph Hedley Archive reference

Dr Robert Spence Watson

This portrait was commissioned from Ralph Hedley to commemorate Spence Watson’s roles as founder of Newcastle Liberal Club and its president for twenty three years. When the painting was presented to him at a special dinner, Spence Watson said:-

“He had made the acquaintance – and, he trusted, the friendship – of a Newcastle man who was an artist of no mean order.”

Spence Watson was a solicitor who lived at Bensham Grove, Sidney Grove, Gateshead. He knew leading artists of the day, like Rossetti and William Morris, and they visited him at Bensham Grove.

Watson was also heavily involved in politics. In September 1875, Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli issued a circular to British ships ordering them to return any stowaway slaves to their owners. Watson called a meeting of the Newcastle Liberal Association and announced that, if a stowaway slave was returned, he would indite the ship's captain for kidnapping and Disraeli as an accomplice. Disraeli withdrew the circular.

Ralph Hedley R.B.A. Dr Robert Spence Watson 1897 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED