Tea in the Hospital Ward
Sir Stanley Spencer, CBE, RA (Cookham 1891– Cliveden 1959)
Tea-time must have been one of the highlights in the daily routine at the Beaufort Hospital. The contemplative figure in the bottom left-hand corner suggests that it was a quiet time, although a photograph in the Glenside Hospital Museum shows a reality quite different to the cosy scene evoked by Spencer, with formal, serried ranks of patients sat at trestle tables. This scene did not feature in Spencer’s original scheme and was the last of the predella canvases to be painted in 1932.
Oil painting on canvas, Tea in the Hospital Ward by Sir Stanley Spencer, CBE, RA (Cookham 1891– Cliveden 1959), 1932. Wounded soldiers in their blue suits receive generous helpings of white bread and jam at a table in a ward at Beaufort Hospital, whilst other soldiers remain at their beds too tired or injured to move. The painting evokes Spencer’s nostalgia and memories of returning home from the Slade in time for bread and jam prior to the war. This scene did not feature in the original cartoon for the series, replacing another indeterminate ward scene and was the last of the predella canvases to be painted in 1932.
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
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.423 Stanley Spencer (ed. Keith Bell), Royal Academy of Arts, London with Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1980, p.109 Behrend 1965 George Behrend, Stanley Spencer at Burghclere, London, MacDonald, 1965, p.37 Gough 2006 Paul Gough, Stanley Spencer: Journey to Burghclere, Samson & Company, Bristol, 2006, p. 131-132