Stanley Spencer: Visionary Painter of the Natural World
24 March – 31 October 2016
To mark the 125th anniversary of the artist's birth, the gallery brings together his most glorious depictions of nature.
Although best known for depicting the harsh realities of war, Stanley Spencer was also a talented painter of the natural world. This exhibition celebrates the garden vistas, green landscapes and river idylls that feature in his work – either as the background to a domestic or pastoral scene, or in full focus as the sole subject.
While the demand for Spencer's nature-inspired works was great, the artist had to feel connected to a place in order to paint it. In 1938 he began creating pictures of gardens and landscapes in and around his beloved hometown of Cookham, which he described as 'a village in heaven'.
Magnolias, 1938 is one of the resulting pieces, with Spencer so excited about it he wrote to his dealer, Dudley Tooth, that it was ‘as good as anything I have done’ before it was even finished. The magnolia tree it captures can still be seen on Berries Road.