Stanley Spencer: Heaven in a Hell of War

ISBN: 9781869827137
Artist(s): Stanley Spencer
Author(s): Paul Gough, Amanda Bradley, David Taylor, Katy Norris, Simon Martin, Jamie Hacker Hughes, Jenny Beddington
Format: paperback
Edition: -
Year published: 2013
Publisher: Pallant House Gallery in association with the National Trust 
Total Pages: 112
Illustrations: Includes 81 illustrations, 71 in colour 

Artist(s) Biographies:


2 available

Sir Stanley Spencer (1891‐1959) stands as one of the most important English painters of the twentieth century. Best‐known for his paintings which elevate ordinary village life to epic, sometimes Biblical grandeur, his most famous large‐scale work is the cycle of paintings at Sandham Memorial Chapel in the village of Burghclere, Hampshire, England, now owned by the National Trust.

Painted entirely from memory the canvas panels, which took six years to create, chronicle the everyday life faced by millions of soldiers during the First World War ‐ from washing laundry to kit inspection and bed‐making. As such, they offer a unique insight into the domestic and personal, rather than the combative and traumatic, experiences of the battlefield, and are considered by many to be the artist’s finest achievement.

This new book, produced to accompany the temporary relocation of the canvases whilst the chapel itself undergoes restoration, includes six new essays by leading experts. The essays reveal the influences behind the paintings, from Spencer’s first‐hand experiences of war, to Giotto’s Arena Chapel murals in Padua, as well as Spencer’s relationship with the family who commissioned the paintings and his contemporary Henry Lamb, and an essay giving insight into the psychological strategies Spencer used to turn his own experiences of war into these remarkable paintings.

Beautifully illustrated throughout with some never‐before published sketches by Spencer for the paintings and detailed explanations of each of the paintings in the cycle, this book is an essential companion to a unique war memorial created by one of Britain’s best‐loved painters.

The paintings will be exhibited at Somerset House (London, UK) from 7 November 2013 to 26 January 2014 and at Pallant House Gallery (Chichester, West Sussex, UK) from 15 February to 15 June 2014.


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