Sir Stanley Spencer

Dinner on the Hotel Lawn


Not on display

Sir Stanley Spencer 1891–1959
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 949 × 1359 mm
frame: 1100 × 1515 × 85 mm
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1957

Display caption

Many of Spencer’s works, including this painting, are set in his hometown of Cookham in Berkshire. Here he draws on childhood memories of the Cookham Regatta boat races in the early years of the 20th century. The setting is at once a riverbank and the interior of a church: ‘The Village Street of Cookham was to be the Nave and the river which runs behind the street was a side aisle’. He later commented, ‘I seem to have forgotten about the food’, which seems particularly strange in a depiction of an outdoor meal.

Gallery label, October 2020

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

Catalogue entry


Not inscribed.
Canvas, 37 3/8×53 1/2 (95×136).
Chantrey Purchase from the artist through Arthur Tooth & Sons 1957.
Exh: To-day and Yesterday, Tooth's, February–March 1957 (3); R.A., 1957 (131).
Lit: Collis, 1962, pp.218, 226, 247.
Repr: Royal Academy Illustrated, 1957, p.37.

This is the fourth of the ‘Cookham Regatta’ series begun in 1952, and was painted during 1956–7. This series forms the second part of a scheme conceived in 1933 as a sequel to the Burghclere Chapel decorations, but with the action this time taking place in the artist's native village of Cookham and planned somewhat thus: ‘The Village Street of Cookham was to be the Nave and the river which runs behind the street was a side aisle... the more recent “Listening from Punts” Regatta scene is a side aisle fragment’ (S. Spencer, introduction to the exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, November–December 1955, p.3). The artist explained that he drew upon his memories of the Regatta at Cookham in Edwardian days with, in the centre, Christ imagined as preaching from the Horse Ferry barge and taking the place of the concert usually held on the same barge. This large central picture of Christ preaching remained unfinished at the artist's death and is now on permanent loan from Lord Astor to the Stanley Spencer Gallery, Cookham.

He also commented (letter of 3 September 1957) that the long tables, a little reminiscent of the long punts, occur only in the Tate painting, whereas in others of the series they are square. ‘In all of them I seem to have forgotten about the food, square or long table. And I was annoyed to notice that I had made the servants putting the knives on the wrong side: & they are doing it so nicely!’ The scene is visualized as taking place on the lawn of the Ferry Hotel.

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

You might like

In the shop