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Dug-Out (or Stand-to)

Sir Stanley Spencer, CBE, RA (Cookham 1891– Cliveden 1959)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

1928

Materials

Oil on canvas

Measurements

2134 x 1854 mm (84 x 73 in)

Place of origin

Burghclere

Order this image

Collection

Sandham Memorial Chapel, Hampshire

On show at

Sandham Memorial Chapel, Hampshire, London and South East, National Trust

NT 790182

Caption

Dug-out is the first in the narrative sequence of the Sandham canvases to depict a scene set at the Macedonian front. Soldiers in two trenches prepare their equipment for a ‘stand-to’ order about to be giving by their sergeant, whose uniform is camouflaged by fern fronds. A tense, sombre atmosphere is created by the piles of barbed wire that appear like black thunder clouds, and by one of the soldiers looking ominously towards the right, which in the chapel is the east wall and Spencer’s Resurrection.

Summary

Oil painting on canvas, Dug-Out (or Stand-to) by Sir Stanley Spencer, CBE, RA (Cookham 1891– Cliveden 1959), 1928. Spencer now transports us the first time to the Salonika front in Macedonia. He intended the thundercloud pattern of barbed wire to indicate a contrast between the threatening atmosphere of this scene and the relative domesticity of the preceding scenes. As they emerge from the trenches, the expressions of weariness and fear in the soldier's faces, except that of the sergeant in the foreground, makes this the most intense scene in the series. But the tension is relieved as some of the men realize what is happening behind them: they are looking beyond death towards the Resurrection on the East Wall. The painting was developed as a later alteration. With removal of the proposed surgical operation painting from the scheme, and the repositioning of Kit Inspection to the now vacant space, a new painting was required. For this Spencer composed Dug-Out (or Stand-To) from an excerpt of The Resurrection of Soldiers.

Provenance

Given with the chapel by John Louis Behrend (1881- 1972) and Mary Sandham Behrend (1884 - 1977), 1947

Makers and roles

Sir Stanley Spencer, CBE, RA (Cookham 1891– Cliveden 1959), artist

Exhibition history

Stanley Spencer: Heaven in a Hell of War, Manchester City Art Gallery, Manchester, 2013 - 2015 Stanley Spencer: Heaven in a Hell of War, Somerset House, London, 2013 - 2015 Stanley Spencer: Heaven in a Hell of War, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, 2013 - 2015

References

Bell 1992 Keith Bell, Stanley Spencer, A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, Phaidon Press, London 1992, p.421 Carline 1978 Richard Carline. Stanley Spencer at War, London, Faber and Faber, 1978, p.184-5 Stanley Spencer (ed. Keith Bell), Royal Academy of Arts, London with Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1980, p.106 Behrend 1965 George Behrend, Stanley Spencer at Burghclere, London, MacDonald, 1965, p.8-14 Robinson 1990 Duncan Robinson, Stanley Spencer, Phaidon, Oxford, 1990, p.44 Gough 2006 Paul Gough, Stanley Spencer: Journey to Burghclere, Samson & Company, Bristol, 2006, p.141-143

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