Map Reading

Sir Stanley Spencer, CBE, RA (Cookham 1891– Cliveden 1959)
National Trust Inventory Number 790190

Category Art / Oil paintings
Date 1927 - 1932
Materials Oil on canvas
Measurements 2134 x 1854 mm
Place of origin Burghclere
Collection Sandham Memorial Chapel, Hampshire
On show at Sandham Memorial Chapel, Hampshire, London and South East, National Trust

The officer is the only soldier in command represented in the cycle. He is shown holding a map of Macedonia, on which Spencer noted all the places that he could remember visiting there. The soldiers in the background are shown feasting on bilberries, in a landscape that might almost be Cookham.

The rendering of landscape and greenery typifies Spencer’s skill at painting landscape and still-life, reflecting the rhododendrons by the Beaufort gatehouse in Convoy Arriving with the Wounded, and the rolling landscape above the Resurrection.

Summary description

Oil painting on canvas, Map Reading by Sir Stanley Spencer, CBE, RA (Cookham 1891– Cliveden 1959), 1927/32. This scene which featured in the original 1923 sketches, shows soldiers taking a rest whilst in route-march, whilst the only officer in the whole scheme of paintings is depicted studding a large map from the back of his horse. Around him soldiers sleep upon the grass and harvest bilberries from the landscape. The bright, distinct flora along the roadside is analogous to that of ‘Convoy of Wounded’, a painting with which an elevated view point is also shared.


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.423
Carline 1978 Richard Carline. Stanley Spencer at War, London, Faber and Faber, 1978, p.185
Stanley Spencer (ed. Keith Bell), Royal Academy of Arts, London with Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1980, p.112
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.148-151

Related items

Place of origin Burghclere (22)
Materials Canvas (10117)
Oil paint (8600)
Category Art / Oil paintings (12642)
Collection Sandham Memorial Chapel, Hampshire (71)
Periods 20th century (182276)
Maker Sir Stanley Spencer, CBE, RA (Cookham 1891– Cliveden 1959) (36)
Object Type Oil painting (14440)

Record Status


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