A landscape painter and art teacher, he was born on April 18, 1860 at Silsden in Yorkshire.
Spencer studied at Keighley School of Art, and at the R.C.A. from 1881. He was Headmaster of the Coalbrookdale School of Art from 1885, Headmaster of Leicester School of Art from 1888, and Principal of the R.C.A. 1900-1920. At his tenure at the Royal Academy of Art he made a great deal of changes. He met with much resistance but had some moderate success in changing the art theory and teaching of the times. He aligned himself with Ruskin's school of thought toward art.
He was a member of The Aireville Group an officially recognized body of talent which thrived during the period encompassing
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