Sir Stanley Spencer The Centurion’s Servant 1914

Artwork details

Artist
Sir Stanley Spencer 1891–1959
Title
The Centurion’s Servant
Date 1914
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 1143 x 1143 mm
frame: 1270 x 1270 x 100 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1960
Reference
T00359

Display caption

Spencer liked the story in St Luke Chapter 7, in which after marvelling at the centurion's faith, Jesus heals his sick servant without entering the house. Bringing this into his own time and place, Spencer set the scene in the maid's bedroom in the attic of his home, a room which he too never entered. Sometimes he heard strange voices coming from the room which he later discovered was simply the maid talking through the wall to another servant. Thus, the biblical narrative reminded him of experiences in his own life. These also included kneeling in prayer at church, and Cookham villagers praying around the bed of a dying man, a custom his mother had told him about. The youth on the bed has Spencer's own features.

August 2004

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