Thursday, 2 August 2012

Stanley Spencer

Sir Stanley SpencerKCB CBE RA (30 June 1891 – 14 December 1959) was an English painter. Spencer studied at the Slade School of Art at University College, London.

Much of his work depicts Biblical scenes, from miracles to Crucifixion, happening not in the Holy Land but in the small Thames-side village Cookham of  Berkshire. Where he was born and spent most of his life in. He referred to Cookham as "a village in Heaven." Fellow-villagers frequently stand in for their Gospel counterparts, lending Christian teachings an eerie immediacy.

In 1915 Spencer volunteered to serve with the Royal Army Medical Corps and worked as an orderly at the Beaufort War Hospital (which later became Glenside).[ In 1916, the 24-year-old Spencer volunteered for service with the RAMC in Macedonia, and served with the 68th Field Ambulance unit. He subsequently volunteered to be transferred to the Berkshire Regiment. His survival of the devastation and torment that killed so many of his fellows indelibly marked Spencer's attitude to life and death. Such preoccupations come through time and again in his religious works.
Towards the end of the war he was commissioned by the War Artists Advisory Committee to paint what became Travoys Arriving with Wounded at a Dressing Station at Smol, Macedonia, September 1916 (now in the Imperial War Museum). It was visibly the consequence of Spencer's experience in the medical corps. A further major commission was to paint murals for the SandhamMemorial Chapel in Burghclere. Built to honour the 'forgotten dead' of the First World War, who were not remembered on any official memorials.The altarpiece depicts the Resurrection of the Soldiers. 

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