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Firebelt

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

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

1927 - 1932

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 790192

Caption

The creation of a firebelt entailed the burning off of grass around the camp in order to create a protective fire barrier; here the soldiers are using copies of the Balkan News as firelighters. ‘Of the last three arched pictures, I like [this] the best’ Spencer wrote to Mary Behrend. The tangle of pulleys and complicated interplay of figures, including a Stanley-esque figure in uniform, holding a tent pole, does indeed make for a complex, but resoundingly successful composition.

Summary

Oil painting on canvas, Firebelt by Sir Stanley Spencer, CBE, RA (Cookham 1891– Cliveden 1959), 1927/32. The scene shows a muscular Spencer situated in the foreground who along with his fellow soldiers is creating a protective barrier around the camp by burning off the grass in Macedonia using pages from the ‘Balkan Times’, whilst further soldiers erect a camp. This scene did not feature in the 1923 compostional drawing or in the early cartoons for the series, and came to replace ‘Camouflaged Tent’.

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.424 Carline 1978 Richard Carline. Stanley Spencer at War, London, Faber and Faber, 1978, p.182,184 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 Pople 1991 Kenneth Pople, Stanley Spencer: A Biography, Harper Collins London, 1991, p.149 Gough 2006 Paul Gough, Stanley Spencer: Journey to Burghclere, Samson & Company, Bristol, 2006, p.151-152

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