Compton Verney display shows the overlooked gardens of painting great Stanley Spencer

By Culture24 Staff | 28 June 2011
An image of an oil painting of people on a street
Stanley Spencer, Village Life, Gloucestershire. Oil on canvas. Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum© The Estate of Stanley Spencer
Early 20th century painter Stanley Spencer is usually remembered for the metaphysical aspirations and wiry eccentricity behind the works he used to cart about in a pram, but this exhibition takes the glorious Georgian architecture and lush historic surroundings of Compton Verney as inspiration for a closer look at the garden views and rustic landscapes he captured so colourfully in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.

An image of a painting of a rural landscape
Stanley Spencer, Cookham Rise (1938). Oil on canvas. Leamington Art Gallery© The Estate of Stanley Spencer
Spencer took a typically virtuoso approach to his rural subjects, illustrating his immense passion for greenery and belief in the garden as a “private heaven”.

A black and white photo of a man wheeling a pram past houses
Spencer was a maverick painter and man© Stanley Spencer Gallery, Cookham
He was concerned by the spread of the suburbs between the wars and the development of the countryside, where architecture and archaeology often clashed. It’s a central theme expressed through beautiful oil works, remaining prescient more than 60 years later.

  • Open Tuesday-Sunday 11am-5pm. Admission £2-£13 (family ticket £26).
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