Three Studies for Christ Carrying the Cross (c1920)

Drawing, Oil and pencil on paper,  421mm x 453mm

Oil and pencil on paper, squared for transfer Spencer blocks in tone as he experiments with his composition. Music, like literature was an essential part of Spencer’s life and many of his works have the rhythms and tones that suggest music is present. The shape to the right has become the ivy covered cottage ‘The Nest’, which belonged to Spencer’s grandmother. The men going past ‘The Nest’ carrying their ladders worked for Fairchilds, the builder in Cookham, and were a late addition to the composition, their crossed ladders suggesting the impending crucifixion.

Drawing, Pencil on paper, 235mm x304mm

The house is ‘Fernlea’, Spencer’s childhood home. Spencer’s vision is of Christ, at a terrible moment of his life, in the familiar and comforting setting of his village. This is one of several studies for the oil painting Christ carrying the Cross, 1920 (Tate) through which we see Spencer gradually developing a composition which includes lots of incidental details. Throughout the studies the rhythmically arranged figures hanging out of the windows of ‘Fernlea’ remain. In the final painting they are still at the windows but each one has wing-like curtains fluttering beside it.

Drawing, Pencil and sepia wash on paper, 235mm x266mm

Spencer experiments with shapes and tone for the figures in the procession to Calvary as it passes ‘Fernlea’. In the central study Christ carries the cross almost hidden by the soldier beside him. In the final painting he is even more difficult to see in the crowd.