Stanley Spencer's importance and influence

The breadth of his genius

The works of Stanley Spencer are of worldwide renown. He was a visionary genius, whose work was driven by spirituality, human desire and Cookham, his ‘village in heaven’ where he spent most of his life and painted a great number of works.

Stanley Spencer had a profound influence on future generations of artists. It is hard to imagine the work of Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon and Tracey Emin without the precedent of his raw emotional intensity and unfiltered gaze. 

Portrait of Mr and Mrs Baggett (1956/7)
Few painters have demonstrated an ability to capture so many dimensions of human experience and the world in which we live. Still fewer have been able to master such a glorious range of representations in paint, some of these on a truly astonishing scale.

Much of Spencer’s work has been explored in depth, but there is more to do. Although he speaks from an age that has been overtaken by the imperatives of modernity, Spencer’s works have a timeless quality. His relevance is unweakened and we can benefit by continuing to look and listen.

Below are just some the numerous facets of Spencer’s life and work.
  • An enduring spirit of optimism and belief in the future

  • Iconic paintings from TWO world wars

  • Extolling the common man and woman and the dignity of the worker

  • Masterly representations of British landscape, gardens and architecture

  • Moving and much-loved depictions of human joy and anguish
  • A wonderful illuminator of social history

  • A master of painterly composition and design

  • Consummate skill in the capture of colour, patterns and texture

  • Unswerving in his humble lifestyle and personal work ethic

  • Always innovative and creative

An icon for the entire nation, north to south and east to west

Stanley Spencer produced some 450 oil paintings, as well as thousands of drawings and preparatory sketches.  His works are spread throughout the world in public institutions and private collections. In the UK the collections of Tate, The Stanley Spencer Gallery, Cookham, the Imperial War Museum, and The Burghclere Chapel are the most extensive, but there is hardly a major City Art Gallery in Britain without at least one Spencer, from Aberdeen to Southampton, from Swansea to Hull, and from Belfast to Glasgow.

Stanley Spencer’s reputation as one of the Great British Artists continues to soar.  The breadth of his oeuvre is extraordinary, but each part of it reflects his relationship with this country.  The following titles help further demonstrate Spencer’s ‘reach’ across the UK. The Harbour, St Ives (1937), Merville Garden Village near Belfast (1951), Landscape in North Wales (1938), Village Life, Gloucestershire (1940), Garden Scene, Port Glasgow (1944), The Red House, Wangford (Suffolk) (1926), Helter Skelter, Hampstead Heath (1937).