Raphaella Beatrice Spence was born in London in 1978. When she was still a baby her family moved to France where she spent the first eight years of her life.


In 1986 Spence returned to London. Here her interest in art began to emerge by being exposed to the many architectural projects by her father Milton John Erwin Spence and her grandfather, Sir Basil Spence (Coventry Cathedral, Rome British Embassy, New Zealand Parliament Buildings, Hyde Park Barracks / Tower).


Before the birth of architectural design and rendering software, significant projects were often represented with very realistic and detailed handmade drawings, for which the Spence Office had a particularly strong reputation. These beautiful almost photo real representations realized in pencil and watercolour, were the first source of inspiration for Raphaella, who quickly started to think about figurate art in terms of connections between reality, photography and painting.


At the age of twelve Raphaella's family decided to move permanently to Todi (Italy) where her parents bought and restored a medieval mill immersed in the Umbrian countryside. Here began a very formative period of the artist's life who spent most of her days learning and practicing different painting technics taught by her father Milton, while in parallel completing her studies at the St. George's British International School in Rome. Finished her studies she focused full time on oil painting creating a first series of works depicting landscapes inspired by views of the Umbrian countryside.


In 1999 Spence held her first solo exhibition in Italy and in 2003, at the age of twenty-four, she exhibited in New York in her first solo show at the Louis K. Meisel Gallery, a gallery with whom she still exhibits.


During that same year Spence also participated in the exhibition entitled "Iperrealisti", her first major museum exhibition at the Chiostro del Bramante in Rome, curated by Gianni Mercurio, where she was commissioned by the American car manufacturer DaimlerChrysler Group to paint a work which represented the PT Cruiser, their latest car on the market.


In 2004, Spence moved to New York where she worked on a series of paintings inspired by cityscapes of the major American cities. Also from this period were a group of works based on aerial photography imaginary. As the only working female artist in the hyperrealism scene, Spence exhibited with leading artists of the current such as Richard Estes, Chuck Close, Don Eddy, Ralph Goings, and Robert Cottingham.


In 2005 she returned to Italy and worked on several large paintings inspired by disturbing social scenes such as violence among football fans and mass animal slaughter. A selection of these works were exhibited at the Musei Capitolini in Rome, donated to the UNHCR and auctioned by Sotheby's and Christie's.


Between 2003 and 2008 Spence participated with other major hyperrealist artists in a series of projects aiming at representing particular visual aspects of different cities. These assignments were funded by American and European collectors and resulted in the "Prague Project" in 2003, the "Zurich Project" in 2007, the "Monte Carlo Project" in 2008, the "Vegas Project" in 2008, and the "Beijing Project" also in 2008. As of particular relevance, Spence painted different aerial views of Monte Carlo during the Formula One Grand Prix and in the course of the Chinese Olympic Games captured several contrasting aspects between modern Beijing and the old Forbidden City. The paintings created in these projects were subsequently exhibited at the Louis K. Meisel Gallery in New York.



Starting in 2012, Spence took part in an international museum tour that began at the Kunsthalle Tübingen Museum in Germany and continued with other 13 venues in international museums such as the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (Spain), the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (England), the New Orleans Museum Of Art, (U.S.A.), the Oklahoma City Museum Of Art (U.S.A.), the Museo De Bellas Artes De Bilbao (Spain), the Kunsthal Museum Rotterdam (Netherlands), the Tampa Museum Of Art (U.S.A).


Between 2018 and 2019 Raphaella took part in a travelling exhibition on hyperrealism at the prestigious CCBB Museums in Brazil, (Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil). The first venue in 2018 was held in San Paolo and in 2019 the exhibition went to Brasilia to then move on to the final destination in 2019-2020 at the headquarters of the CCBB Museum in Rio de Janeiro. These exhibitions reached almost a million visitors.


In 2022 Spence launched her new series of works focusing on paintings depicting under water scenes of marine pollution, in particular plastic and packaging waste. In order to create these images she does underwater marine photography using an extremely high resolution digital camera. This new series of works was presented for the first time at the Museo Nacional Thyssen Bornemisza in Madrid in October 2022 and are now part of the museum's permanent collection.


In 2024 Raphaella Spence will exhibit a selection of her new marine waste series at the Parrish Art Museum in New York.


Currently Spence is working on a retrospective of her paintings for a private collection. This body of works will be permanently exhibited at the collector's foundation.