Sir Stanley Spencer
Zacharias and Elizabeth 1913–4

Artwork details

Sir Stanley Spencer 1891–1959
Zacharias and Elizabeth
Date 1913–4
Medium Oil paint and graphite on canvas
Dimensions Support: 1426 x 1428 x 24 mm
frame: 1703 x 1705 x 130 mm
Acquisition Purchased jointly with Sheffield Galleries & Museums Trust with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund, the Friends of the Tate Gallery, Howard and Roberta Ahmanson and private benefactors 1999
Not on display

Display caption

In St Luke’s gospel, Zacharias is sacrificing in a temple when he is visited by the archangel Gabriel. Gabriel tells him that, although his wife Elizabeth is past childbearing age, she will bear a child from God. He will grow up to become John the Baptist.

Spencer imagines the story in a garden behind his studio in Cookham. He wrote: ‘It was to be a painting characterizing and exactly expressing the life I was … living and seeing about me… to raise that life round me to what I felt was its true status, meaning and purpose.’

September 2004