Monday, March 25, 2013

Englishmen Working by Stanley Spencer 1891-1959



Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891 – 1959) Workmen in the House 1935


Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891 – 1959) Workmen in the House 1935


Stanley Spencer painted men working for decades. He was an Official War Artist in both World Wars. His great cycle of wall paintings in the National Trust Sandham Memorial Chapel, Burghclere commemorate his experiences in the RAMC and infantry during the First World War.


Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891 – 1959) Shipbuilding on the Clyde


The Imperial War Museum in London loaned paintings to augment an exhibition of Stanley Spencer's series on WWII British shipbuilding in 2012. An introduction to the exhibition written by Stanley Spencer Gallery's Curator, Carolyn Leder, explains...


Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891 – 1959) Garage 1929 


In 1939, Spencer urged his dealer Dudley Tooth to find him 'a war job, some sort of official art employment.' The art market was slack and as Tooth noted Spencer was 'terribly in debt all round'. On Tooth's writing to Sir Kenneth Clark, Director of the National Gallery, and Chairman of the War Artists' Advisory Committee (WAAC) under the Ministry of Information, Spencer was interviewed and appointed. His initial suggestion of a Crucifixion with predella panels to show the Nazi conquest of Poland was rejected.


Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891 – 1959)


Instead, he agreed to depict a shipyard, paying his first visit to the suggested 'Kingston' yard, owned by Sir James Lithgow, at Port Glasgow on the river Clyde in May 1940. He responded to the place with enthusiasm...The strong sense of community reminded him of Cookham: 'many of the places in and corners of Lithgow's factory moved me in much the same way as I was by rooms in my childhood.'


Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891 – 1959)


During WWII, Spencer depicted all the major trades involved in the building of the ships, including developments in technology, such as the use of welding, which gradually superseded riveting as a method of joining steel plates...They fully engaged his creative imagination: 'The point is that whatever may be thought of these shipbuilding pictures of mine, I am much moved by what I see up here and experience joy in attempting to express the feeling I have about it all…'


Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891 – 1959) The Builders


Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891 – 1959) Plumbers


Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891 – 1959) Laundry


Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891 – 1959) Filling Tea Urns


Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891 – 1959) Shipbuilding on the Clyde Burners


Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891 – 1959) Shipbuilding on the Clyde Riveters 1946


Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891 – 1959) Shipbuilding on the Clyde Riveters


Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891 – 1959) Shipbuilding on the Clyde Welders


Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891-1959) Mending Cowls, Cookham 1915


Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891-1959) Bedmaking 1927-32

Bible Stories by Stanley Spencer 1891-1959



Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891-1959) Making the Columns for the Tower of Babel 1933


The Tower of Babel in the Book of Genesis was reportedly built by a united people  speaking a single language who came to the land of Shinar, where they resolved to settle & build a city with a tower "whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."  While contemplating a proposal for a project at Cambridge University Library, Spencer wrote, "I had an idea of putting the Tower of Babel at one end of the library (the confusion of Tongues) & at the other end, the scene of Pentecost where the Disciples are coming from the upper room in to the streets & talking in the tongues of the people from different countries that have come to town."


Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891-1959) Marriage at Cana, Bride and Bridegroom 1953


In Christianity, the transformation of water into wine at the Marriage at Cana is the first miracle of Jesus in the Gospel of John.  Spencer saw this story of the wedding feast as a symbol of God's blessing on marriage.  Spencer was a maddening mix of genuine, passionate spirituality & a rather healthy, self-righteous egoism.  Spencer's series on the Marriage at Cana referred to his marriage to his first wife Hilda Carline; which ended in divorce, when he wanted to marry a 2nd woman, a lesbian neighbor Patricia Preece, and have 2 wives.  Four days after the divorce, Spencer married Preece in 1937.  The marriage to Patricia Preece worked out rather badly for Spencer.  He was sexually infatuated, she was passionately in need of cash. Preece went on the honeymoon without Stanley, but with her long-time lover Dorothy Hepworth, a painter whose work Patricia was exhibiting as her own. Patricia & Dorothy lived together from then on.  Patricia took title to Spencer's home & accepted his lavish gifts but never consummated the marriage.  In 1939, Spencer wrote,  "I wish I could have all my real selves around me…like objects in a museum. My great losses are my pictures & Hilda."  Spencer ended up living mostly alone & in squalor.


Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891-1959) Scene from the Marriage at Cana in Galilee 1935