Jerwood Foundation

Sir Stanley Spencer RA (1891-1959)

Daphne Spencer with a Green Scarf, 1953

  • Details

    © the estate of Stanley Spencer 2013. All rights reserved DACS

  • Medium

    oil on canvas

  • Dimensions

    18 x 14 in. (45.5 x 35.5 cm.)

  • Provenance

    Mrs Elvinson, 1953.
    with Arthur Tooth & Sons, London.
    Anonymous sale; Sotheby’s, London, 21 June 1995, lot 50, where purchased.

  • Literature

    K. Bell, Stanley Spencer, A Complete Catalogue of the Oil Paintings, London, 1992, pp. 499-500, no. 389, illustrated.
    M. Sturgis, Jerwood, The Foundation and the Founders, Norwich, 2009, illustrated p. 57.
    Collection Catalogue, Jerwood Collection, London 2012 p.34. Illustrated p.15.

  • On Display

    Room 4, Jerwood Gallery, Hastings

This portrait of the artist’s niece was painted in 1953, while Spencer was staying with his brother, Harold, at Whitehouse, north of Belfast. Spencer first visited in 1951 and returned several times. Daphne appears in other works of the period including: Portrait of Daphne Spencer, 1951 (Ulster Museum, Belfast) and Daphne by the Window Northern Ireland, 1952 (National Art Gallery, Wellington).

The attention to detail displayed in this painting, both in the depiction of Daphne and the background especially the material of the chair on which she is sitting, conveys the intensity with which Spencer observed his sitters and surroundings.

Spencer was born in Cookham, Berkshire, where he spent most of his life and while at the Slade School of Art (1908-1912), he was nicknamed ‘Cookham’ by his contemporaries who included Paul Nash, Christopher Wynne Nevinson and David Bomberg. Spencer’s exceptional artistic talent was recognised at an early age and his work was included in the Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition, organised by Roger Fry in 1912.

During the First World War Spencer served with the Royal Medical Corps and the Berkshire Royal Infantry. His firsthand experience of reality of war at the front fed into his work and can be seen in the murals he painted for Burghclere Chapel (1923-24). Another important influence was his Christian religion and for Spencer the events of the New Testament were a reality, which he depicted within a contemporary backdrop of his native Cookham, a ‘holy suburb of heaven’. Other important strands of Spencer’s work include The Beatitudes of Love series (painted in the 1930s); landscapes and gardens around Cookham; and a commission from the War Artists Advisory Committee to depict shipbuilding on the Clyde during the Second World War.

Spencer was represented at the Venice Biennale in 1932 and 1938 and retrospective exhibitions include: Temple Newsam, Leeds (1947); Tate Gallery, London (1955); Royal Academy, London (1980); and Tate Britain, London (2001). He was knighted in 1959 and died at the Canadian War Memorial Hospital in Cliveden later that year.