Robert Spencer attended the National Academy of Design from 1899-1901 and then went to the New York School of Design (1903-05). In 1909 Spencer studied independently with Daniel Garber, a popular artist of the New Hope School who also taught at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. Spencer himself became a New Hope Impressionist working in Bucks County, PA. He painted local architecture in its setting rather than in rural landscapes. By 1913 Spencer preferred to depict the living and working conditions of mill workers. He combined social subject matter with the technical advances of the New Hope School. His later work centered on crowded tenements, recording the intimate and frank views from dilapidated backyards. Spencer used somber colors like warm grays and blues, applied in strokes to emphasize an overall flat patterning of the composition. In the summer of 1925 Spencer taught at the PAFA. Spencer committed suicide in 1931.