Sir Stanley Spencer St Francis and the Birds 1935

Artwork details

Sir Stanley Spencer 1891–1959
St Francis and the Birds
Date 1935
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 660 x 584 mm
frame: 870 x 770 x 53 mm
Acquisition Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1967
Not on display

Display caption

St Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscans, is popularly remembered for being able to talk to birds, and pray with them. Here he is shown as an old man, dressed in a Franciscan robe, talking to birds on a farm.

Stanley Spencer intended to display this painting in his ideal gallery, which he called ‘Church House’, though it was never built. The strangeness of his paintings in the 1930s implies some personal interpretation, perhaps here in the way the saint separates the boy and girl. This was one of two paintings rejected by the Royal Academy in 1935.

September 2004

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