Gilbert Spencer

A Cotswold Farm


Not on display

Gilbert Spencer 1892–1979
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1410 × 1841 mm
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1932

Display caption

Despite its title, this is not a picture of a particular farm. Gilbert Spencer had often painted landscapes in the Cotswolds while staying with friends at Andoversford, and he used his memory of these to create an imaginary farm.

Gilbert spent over a year painting this picture in his London studios. It was bought for the nation by the Chantrey Bequest when it was first exhibited in  the following February. It is unusually large, and makes a strong statement about traditional farm labour and its place in the landscape.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

N04670 A COTSWOLD FARM 1930–1

Inscr. ‘G. Spencer’ b.r.
Canvas, 55 1/2×72 1/2 (141×184).
Chantrey Purchase from the artist through the Goupil Gallery 1932.
Exh: Goupil Gallery, February 1932 (59); R.A., 1932 (603); Reading, June–July 1964 (35).
Lit: John Rothenstein, Modern English Painters: Lewis to Moore, 1956, pp.230–1, repr. pl.21.
Repr: Studio, CIII, 1932, p.41 (in colour); Royal Academy Illustrated, 1932, p.112.

The artist wrote (20 April 1958) that this picture was begun at his house in Hampstead in about March 1930 and was completed by April 1931 in Ladbroke Grove, where he had moved after his marriage. ‘The picture was entirely imaginary and no studies or drawings were made from nature for it. This would explain a number of things in it that are not Cotswold in character. I have often used agricultural settings, mostly secondary in which to place my designs. In this one, as the result of my many visits to the Cotswolds [Andoversford] to stay with Austin and Vera Lane Poole (the Principal of St John's, Oxford) and my experiences from painting landscapes there, I decided to use the colour and stone of the Cotswolds for this picture. There is a squared-up drawing in wash for this picture which is as dark as the picture is light and which belongs to Mrs Julian Vinogradoff.’ This drawing, 22×30 in., agrees in practically every detail with the final oil. It is in sepia wash and pencil, and is thus fairly sombre in tone.

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

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