The Goose Fair, Nottingham

Arthur Spooner

English ( b.1873 - d.1962 )

The Goose Fair, Nottingham

  • Watercolour
  • Signed lower left

Image size 11.6 inches x 16.5 inches ( 29.5cm x 42cm )
Frame size 14.6 inches x 20.1 inches ( 37cm x 51cm )

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Arthur Spooner, a Nottingham man through and through, was one of the city’s most famous artists, a man whose works provide an historical record of the area and its people.

Spooner was born in Nottingham and studied at Nottingham School of Art, now part of Nottingham Trent University, under Wilson Foster. He went on to teach landscape and figurative painting and was later appointed Master of Nottingham Art School.

Although Spooner was a versatile artist he is is best known as a landscape painter, with an ability to capture the atmosphere of a place, Nevertheless, he also painted portraits and some sporting scenes, often with gundogs.

Two of his major works are “The Nottingham Boat Club”, which was a commission to commemorate the formation of the new club, and ‘The First Test Match- Tea Interval, Trent Bridge”, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1941.

The most famous of Spooner’s works is perhaps ‘The Goose Fair, Nottingham”, which he painted in 1926. This depicts a crowded scene at the Goose Fair on one of the last times the event was held in the Market Square, before it moved to the Forest. It was sold at Christies in 2004 for £218,000. The purchaser was Sir Henry Djanogly, and the painting is now one of the main attractions at the Nottingham Castle gallery, where is hangs on long-term loan. Although Spooner is known for an accurate portrayal of events, the clown is that painting is in fact a self-portrait.

The painting of Goose Fair featured here is obviously not such a grand piece as that hanging in the Castle, and shows a different aspect of the Fair. The trees in the background suggest that this was painted after the Fair moved to the Forest.

As a Member of the Royal Society of British Artists Spooner was a popular figure and much feted during his lifetime. His works have been exhibited at the Royal Academy on numerous occasions as well as the Royal Society of British Artists, the Walker Gallery, the Birmingham Art Gallery and elsewhere.

Spooner was a major artistic influence on the city of Nottingham, teaching its students and recording its events. Indeed, apart from painting holidays abroad, his whole career was spent in Nottingham. His legacy is the greater because he was a founder member of the Nottingham Society of Artists and served as President 1946-62.

Spooner was unable to work in his final years because of failing eyesight, and he died in Nottingham in 1962.

A BBC One programme fronted by Dan Snow in 2011 retraced his career and looked at his works housed in Nottingham Castle, Portland College and Welbeck Abbey.