Sir Stanley SpencerApple Gatherers 1912-3

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Artwork details

Sir Stanley Spencer (1891‑1959)
Apple Gatherers
Date 1912-3
MediumOil paint on canvas
Dimensionssupport: 714 x 924 mm frame: 945 x 1145 x 70 mm
Acquisition Presented by Sir Edward Marsh 1946
Not on display


'This picture', Spencer wrote in 1939 in his notes about his pictures, 'was my first ambitious work and I have in it wished to say what life was' (Tate Archive 733.3.21). The subject, however, was chosen for him, as it was set by the Slade School for their annual drawing competition (see Tate N06233). Spencer's teacher, Henry Tonks, had arranged for him to spend part of the 1911-12 Christmas holiday with an old Slade student near Taunton. The surrounding orchards must partly have been an inspiration. In the painting Spencer sought to give form to a pantheistic vision of connection between man, woman, nature and fertility, in 1941 recording in his notebook:

The apples and the laurel and the grass can fulfil themselves through the presence in their midst: the husband and wife of all places and elements of the picture … The couple in the centre here seem not to need each other in any personal way or even be aware of each other. They seem only co-existent with each other like earth and water, yet it seems a vital relationship… (read more)

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