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Stanley Spencer
Dates: British, 1891 - 1959
Biographical Account:

Stanley Spencer was an English painter of imaginative and religious subjects. He was born in Berkshire on the 30th June 1891 and in 1907 he trained at the Maidenhead Technical Institute. From 1908 – 1912 he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London alongside C R W Nevinson, David Bomberg, Paul Nash and Edward Wadsworth. He was given the nickname ‘Cookham,’ after his home village from which he travelled in to art class every day.


In 1915 Spencer left Cookham and enlisted with the Royal Army Medical Corps before going on to serve in the Royal Berkshire Regiment in 1916. His war experiences had a huge impact on his work and he later drew many scenes from the Macedonian war. In the 1930s Spencer began to explore the theme of sexuality and a series of portraits of his second wife Patricia Preece proved highly controversial. One of these portraits, Leg of Mutton Nude, painted in 1937, was both raw and uncompromising. In it Spencer sought to question ideas of beauty by presenting the body of his wife as nothing more than uncooked meat.



From 1940 – 1944 Spencer worked as an Official War Artist and famously documented the shipyards at Port Glasgow. In 1950 he was made a Royal Academician.


In 1959, the year of his death, Spencer’s artistic reputation was at rock bottom. In the Tate Gallery in the 1960s his paintings were hung in the stairs down to the public lavatories.

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