STANLEY SPENCER: Looking to HeavenEDITED BY JOHN SPENCER Book Number: 86420 Product format: Hardback
Sir Stanley Spencer KBE CBE RA (1891-1959) was born in Cookham in Berkshire, the eighth of nine children. His father recognised in him a passion for drawing and prevailed upon local landowners to permit him to study at their house. This led to his enrolling at the Slade School of Fine Art in 1907, where his contemporaries included Dora Carrington. When he graduated from the Slade in 1912 he returned to his beloved Cookham, which he described as "a village in heaven", and indeed some of his first works were biblical scenes set in and featuring residents of the village such as the large oil 'The Resurrection Cookham' of 1927 with figures emerging from graves, watched by God, the Saints and Christ. When war broke he was keen to enlist, but his mother persuaded him to apply for ambulance and hospital duties in England in the Army Medical Corps. In 1916 he was sent overseas to Macedonia where as a field ambulanceman then infantryman he faced German and Bulgarian gunfire for two years until invalided out due to malaria. One of his greatest achievements were the murals painted in the Sandham Memorial Chapel in Burghclere showing everyday life, realistic scenes in a war zone with his own dreamlike visions. He wrote prolifically, filling many notebooks and diaries, hundreds of letters and manuscripts and typed sheets and much of this remains in the Spencer family archive and the Tate archive and is here published for the first time. It has been a very difficult and unusual project for his grandson John to create his "autobiography" and this is the first volume of what is intended to be a three-volume life. This gorgeous book covers his early life in Cookham, his time at art school, the start of his painting career and his military service up to the end of 1918. His letters during the War are particularly poignant, his observations ranging from harrowing and horrific deaths and injuries to his whimsical and everyday musings on the people of Macedonia, the landscape and what kept him going - books. A handsome linen-bound volume of 368pp with green ribbon bookmark, many photos and other illus in colour and b/w. 7¾" x 9½".
Published price: £30
Bibliophile price: £10.00