Artist biography

Sir Stanley SPENCER 1891–1959

Painter of imaginative and religious subjects, of landscapes and occasional portraits. Born 30 June 1891 at Cookham, Berkshire, brother of Gilbert Spencer. Studied at the Maidenhead Technical Institute 1907 and at the Slade School 1908–12; awarded a scholarship 1910 and the Summer Composition Prize 1912. Exhibited at the Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition 1912. Served with the R.A.M.C. and the Royal Berkshire Regiment, mainly in Macedonia, 1915–18, and was commissioned to paint a war picture for the Imperial War Museum. Member of the N.E.A.C. 1919–27. Visited Yugoslavia 1922 with the Carline family. Married Hilda Carline 1925. Decorated the Oratory of All Souls, Burghclere, 1926–32, with scenes drawn from his reminiscences of the Macedonian war, and lived at Burghclere 1927–32. First one-man exhibition at the Goupil Gallery 1927. Lived at Cookham 1932–8. Visited Switzerland 1933 and 1936. Awarded an Honourable Mention at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, 1933. A.R.A. 1932; resigned 1935 after the rejection of two of his pictures; again A.R.A. and R.A. 1950. Official War Artist 1940–4, painting scenes of shipyards at Port Glasgow. Returned finally to Cookham 1945. Created C.B.E. 1950. Visited China as member of a cultural delegation 1954. Retrospective exhibitions of paintings at Temple Newsam, Leeds, 1947, and at the Tate Gallery 1955; and of drawings arranged and toured by the Arts Council 1954–5. Knighted 1959. Died at Taplow, 14 December 1959. A Stanley Spencer Gallery was opened at Cookham in 1962, and a memorial exhibition was held at Plymouth 1963.

Lit: R. H. Wilenski, Stanley Spencer, 1924; Charles Johnson, English Painting from the Seventh Century to the Present Day, 1932; R. H. Wilenski, English Painting, 1933; Mary Chamot, Modern Painting in England, 1937; Elizabeth Rothenstein, Stanley Spencer, 1945; Eric Newton, Stanley Spencer, 1947; Stanley Spencer: Resurrection Pictures (1945–1950), 1951; Gilbert Spencer, Stanley Spencer, 1961; Maurice Collis, Stanley Spencer: a biography, 1962; Elizabeth Rothenstein, Stanley Spencer, 1963.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II