Bucks GT Spring Talk 2019: Dr Gill Clarke on Stanley Spencer

Date(s) - 30/03/2019
2:30 pm - 4:45 pm

Categories No Categories

Bucks GT Spring Talk 2019 by Dr Gill Clarke
Stanley Spencer

2.30pm, Saturday 23 February 2019
at the Bucks County Museum
£12 for members, £14 for guests

Gardens in the Pound, Cookham, (1936) Stanley Spencer

Sir Stanley Spencer CBE RA (30 June 1891 – 14 December 1959) was an English painter. Shortly after leaving the Slade School of Art, Spencer became well known for his paintings depicting Biblical scenes occurring as if in Cookham, the small village beside the River Thames where he was born and spent much of his life. Spencer referred to Cookham as “a village in Heaven” and in his biblical scenes, fellow-villagers are shown as their Gospel counterparts. Spencer was skilled at organising multi-figure compositions such as in his large paintings for the Sandham Memorial Chapel and the Shipbuilding on the Clyde series, the former being a First World War memorial while the latter was a commission for the War Artists’ Advisory Committee during the Second World War.

As his career progressed Spencer often produced landscapes for commercial necessity and the intensity of his early visionary years diminished somewhat while elements of eccentricity came more to the fore. Although his compositions became more claustrophobic and his use of colour less vivid he maintained an attention to detail in his paintings akin to that of the Pre-Raphaelites. Spencer’s works often express his fervent if unconventional Christian faith. This is especially evident in the scenes that he based in Cookham which show the compassion that he felt for his fellow residents and also his romantic and sexual obsessions. Spencer’s works originally provoked great shock and controversy. Nowadays, they still seem stylistic and experimental, while the nude works depicting his futile relationship with his second wife, Patricia Preece, such as the Leg of mutton nude, foreshadow some of the much later works of Lucian Freud. Spencer’s early work is regarded as a synthesis of French Post-Impressionism, exemplified for instance by Paul Gauguin, plus early Italian painting typified by Giotto. In later life Spencer remained an independent artist and did not join any of the artistic movements of the period, although he did show three works at the Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition in 1912.
(article from wikipedia)

Stanley Spencer in the news!

Cookham from Englefield, Stanley Spencer

A stolen Sir Stanley Spencer painting worth £1m has been returned to its owners after it was found under a drug dealer’s bed. The valuable work, titled Cookham from Englefield, (above) was stolen from the Stanley Spencer Gallery, Berkshire, in 2012. It was missing for five years until detectives arrested Harry Fisher, 28, after they stopped a Mercedes in Strood, Kent, last June (2017), and found one kilogram of cocaine and £30,000 in cash. Officers later discovered the artwork next to three kilograms of cocaine and 15,000 ecstasy tablets under a bed during a raid of Fisher’s flat in Kingston-Upon-Thames, south west London.
You could not make it up!

Currently on exhibition at the Stanley Spencer Gallery, Cookham: 

Collecting Stanley Spencer
10.30 – 17.30 daily
To November 4 2018
Admission £6

Rock roses, Old Lodge, Taplow (1957), Stanley Spencer

Dr Gill Clarke

Gill has spoken to us on a number of occasions on subjects as diverse as the war artists Evelyn Dunbar and Randolph Schwabe, Principal of the Slade School of Fine Art 1930-48, ‘War Horse’ and ‘Shorelines: Artists on the South Coast’, and most recently on A celebration, of the early development of the University of Chichester’s Bishop Otter 20th Century Collection of British Art, the exhibition Gill organised celebrating the collections built by two remarkable women: Shelia McCririck, head of art at Bishop Otter College from 1949-78 and K M Elizabeth (Betty) Murray, Principal of Bishop Otter College 1948-70.

That exhibition also marked the centenary of the birth of of Sheila McCririck. Together the two women created a unique collection, especially as at outset there was no finance. Yet artists through the Contemporary Art Society, such as Ivon Hitchens, William Gear and John Craxton and eminent collectors willingly loaned their work. From these came some of the early purchases when limited funding was secured. This two-site exhibition is a partnership between the Otter Galleryand Pallant House Gallery which showcases a range of works to demonstrate the significance of the collection.

The unerring ‘eye’ of Sheila McCririck together with the support of Betty Murray meant that works were purchased at the time by often little known artists, such as Henry Moore and Spencer . Such was their vision that over the following three decades work was acquired from Graham Sutherland, William Scott, Patrick Heron, Sandra Blow and Mary Fedden.

Please fill in our Booking Form and return with your cheque(s) to
Rosemary Jury,
11 Fledglings Walk, Winslow, Buckingham, Bucks MK18 3QU
email her directly,
or phone: 01296 715 491

Spring Talk 2019
All our Talks are held at the Bucks County Museum
Church Street, Aylesbury, HP20 2QP
(our map shows you how to find the Museum and parking)
and include tea and cakes at the end.