This is the first biography of Stanley Spencer to be written with the full co-operation of Spencer's family, and access to his letters and diaries. Kenneth Pople's method is to advance biographically by examining the pictures in detail. His analysis demonstrates that there never was an artist for whom life and art were so much of a piece, and that without understanding Spencer's doings and circumstances, we have no hope of understanding the paintings. He reveals for the first time, for example, the complexity of Spencer's thinking behind his divorce of his first wife and life-long inspiration, Hilda, his marriage to his lesbian second wife, and his desperate attempts therafter to establish a menage a trois. Spencer was, as is well-known, born, brought up, and for the whole of his life rooted in the tiny community of Cookham on the Thames. The sense of place which is everywhere prevalent in Spencer's paintings is examined in this biography. This work integrates biography, analysis of paintings and extracts from Spencer's own writing.
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Stanley Spencer (1891-1959) has recently been recognized by a wide general public, as well as by art historians, as probably the greatest English painter of the twentieth century. His strange and thrilling settings of biblical and semi-biblical scenes, his grippingly realist portraits, his intense English landscapes, hang in pride of place in our national collections and fetch ever-escalating prices at auction. Although there have been many books about Spencer, Pople's biography is the first to give a thoroughly convincing and coherent account of the life and psyche of the man who produced these extraordinary pictures. Pople has not only had the co-operation of Spencer's daughters and remaining friends' he has had unrestricted access to the artist's letters, diaries and other writings, and has spent ten years unravelling the familiar but so often impenetrable mysteries we see on the canvas. His analysis demonstrates that there never was as artist for whom life and art were so much of a piece, and that without understanding Spencer's doings and circumstances, we have no hope of understanding his paintings.
"A thorough, well-researched study, essential reading for any admirer of Spencer's work. It is unlikely to be replaced for years to come."
EDWARD LUCIE-SMITH, 'Sunday Times'
"Kenneth Pople's biography sets out to celebrate the scale and grandeur of Spencer's achievement…It is a fine appreciation and celebration of an English painter."
GREY GOWRIE, 'Sunday Telegraph'
"Stanley Spencer stands head and shoulders above his contemporaries, in the ambitiousness of his ideas, the originality of his imagery and the compositional wizardry with which he organised complex scenes…Pople's excellence lies in his close attention to and sympathy with, Spencer's ideas. He traces their evolution and shows how consistently they unfold in Spencer's art and unify his 'oeuvre'…This biography is a rich and absorbing read. In its understanding of Spencer's thought and character it is unlikely to be surpassed."
FRANCES SPALDING, ' Times Educational Supplement'
"Kenneth Pople's admirable biography tells the story of Spencer's life through the pictures…By linking the narratives to the work, Pople is able to tie the details of marriages and love affairs to what justifies our interest – the paintings and drawings Spencer's imagination made from them."
PETER CAMPBELL, 'New Statesman and Society'
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 1991. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. First Edition. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0002153203