Wednesday, March 27, 2013
This picture is based on a story told to the artist by his father. In 1910, the tail of Halley's comet created an exceptional sunset, which caused old "Granny" Tubb to fear that the end of the world was near. She knelt by her gate in the High Street in Cookham to pray. Not recalling her features, Spencer replaced them with those of her daughter Sarah. She is comforted by "heavenly visitors," either angels or disciples, who present her with "emblems of what she is like" and "all those things which she loved."
In 1933, Spencer decided to paint scenes of peace & eternal love centred round his hometown village of Cookham. Two of these were Sarah Tubb & the Heavenly Visitors and Villagers & Saints in which saints and angels visit Cookham, making trips round the village and performing benevolent acts. He did not finish this series, but his visions were strong. In his religious paintings, Spencer developed William Blake’s idea that God is found everywhere.
"When I lived in Cookham I was disturbed by a feeling of everything being meaningless. But quite suddenly I became aware that everything was full of special meaning and this made everything holy. The instinct of Moses to take his shoes off when he saw the burning bush was similar to my feelings. I saw many burning bushes in Cookham. I observed this sacred quality in most unexpected quarters." Stanley Spencer, out of Sermons by Artists (1934)