Dug-Out (or Stand-to)

Sir Stanley Spencer, CBE, RA (Cookham 1891– Cliveden 1959)
National Trust Inventory Number 790182

Category Art / Oil paintings
Date 1928
Materials Oil on canvas
Measurements 2134 x 1854 mm (84 x 73 in)
Place of origin Burghclere
Collection Sandham Memorial Chapel, Hampshire
On show at Sandham Memorial Chapel, Hampshire, London and South East, National Trust

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 description

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.


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


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

Related items

Place of origin Burghclere (22)
Materials Canvas (10115)
Oil paint (8601)
Category Art / Oil paintings (12632)
Collection Sandham Memorial Chapel, Hampshire (71)
Periods 20th century (181525)
Maker Sir Stanley Spencer, CBE, RA (Cookham 1891– Cliveden 1959) (36)
Object Type Oil painting (14421)

Record Status


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