Painter Stanley Spencer's "secretive paintings"
Two English cottages, one thatched, one tile-clad, lie all but buried in a high summer profusion of shrubbery, brambles and thick hedges, a white picket gate hanging open at the bottom of the painting seeming to invite us into the image. With its disorientating double perspective that makes it difficult to take in this verdant image all at once, Stanley Spencer’s Cottages at Burghclere combines elements of the modern with a mystical view of landscape that harks back to the Pre-Raphaelites, Samuel Palmer and even further into the English past.
Spencer famously saw God in everything. No need for him to head for the sun-baked climes of the Holy Land, when he saw biblical visions in the lanes and yards of his native Cookham, the Berkshire village whose housewives and dustmen stand in for apostles and Pharisees in settings that weren’t merely convenient, but deeply ingrained in his soul.
Something of a holy innocent with his thick glasses and permanently abstracted air, Spencer, born 1891, was one of the most distinctive figures in 20th-century British art. . .Yet Spencer’s garden paintings. . .secretive paintings. . . have remained little known. . .