Spear was an English painter. Born in Hammersmith, Spear attended the local art school before going on to the Royal College of Art in 1930. He began his teaching career at Croydon School of Art before going on to teach at the Royal College of Art from 1948-75.
Initially influenced by Sickert and the Camden Town Group, and the portraiture of the Euston Road School, his work often has a narrative quality, with elements of humour and gentle satire.
Because he was wheelchair bound due to childhood polio, much of his work focused on his immediate surroundings. He rendered the citizens of Hammersmith relaxing in and around the local pubs, theatres and shops. A retrospective of Spear’s work was held at the Royal Academy in 1980. His work is represented in the Tate Collection.
A large number of Spear’s paintings are held in important public collections, including the Government Art Collection, Arts Council England, the National Portrait Gallery, the Imperial War Museum and the RA.
He was appointed a CBE in 1979.
Spear is the father of musician Roger Ruskin Spear.