Show me:
and
Clear all filters

  • 35 items
  • 25 items Explore
  • 48 items
  • 89 items
  • 3,452 items Explore
  • 97 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 41 items
  • 11,412 items Explore
  • 209 items Explore
  • 1,235 items Explore
  • 8,498 items Explore
  • 5,042 items Explore
  • 72 items Explore
  • 167 items Explore
  • 11,070 items Explore
  • 13,625 items Explore
  • 4,639 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 5 items
  • 153 items Explore
  • 2,101 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 4,754 items Explore
  • 24 items Explore
  • 437 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 19,209 items Explore
  • 34 items Explore
  • 1,026 items Explore
  • 1,113 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 2,391 items Explore
  • 449 items Explore
  • 29 items
  • 920 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 7 items
  • 19,885 items Explore
  • 800 items Explore
  • 19 items
  • 73 items Explore
  • 33 items
  • 800 items
  • 25 items
  • 61 items
  • 28 items
  • 319 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 44 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 2 items
  • 145 items
  • 2 items
  • 7 items
  • 119 items Explore
  • 119 items
  • 1 items
  • 1,021 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 803 items
  • 95 items
  • 27 items
  • 108 items
  • 29,619 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,853 items Explore
  • 1,521 items Explore
  • 403 items
  • 158 items Explore
  • 9,981 items Explore
  • 9,672 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1 items
  • 39 items
  • 3 items
  • 4 items
  • 7,000 items Explore
  • 7,462 items Explore
  • 4,491 items Explore
  • 1,616 items Explore
  • 923 items Explore
  • 3,495 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 334 items
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 3,427 items Explore
  • 20 items Explore
  • 354 items Explore
  • 797 items Explore
  • 1,092 items Explore
  • 503 items Explore
  • 1,120 items Explore
  • 1,123 items
  • 89 items
  • 125 items Explore
  • 6,952 items Explore
  • 170 items
  • 310 items
  • 4 items
  • 20 items
  • 62 items
  • 304 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 2,922 items Explore
  • 1,578 items Explore
  • 203 items
  • 43 items
  • 19,435 items Explore
  • 1,245 items Explore
  • 138 items
  • 843 items Explore
  • 32 items
  • 1 items
  • 132 items Explore
  • 24 items
  • 40 items
  • 20 items
  • 252 items
  • 314 items
  • 698 items Explore
  • 1,781 items
  • 349 items Explore
  • 2,425 items
  • 2,525 items
  • 3 items
  • 3 items
  • 4,386 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 38,152 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,289 items Explore
  • 275 items Explore
  • 8,075 items Explore
  • 31 items
  • 25 items
  • 770 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 65 items
  • 161 items
  • 52 items
  • 21,824 items Explore
  • 917 items
  • 18 items
  • 22,509 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 2,337 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1,028 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 59 items
  • 499 items
  • 3,289 items Explore
  • 175 items
  • 453 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 21 items
  • 90 items Explore
  • 76 items
  • 281 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 6 items
  • 128 items
  • 294 items
  • 734 items
  • 868 items
  • 1 items
  • 895 items Explore
  • 272 items Explore
  • 11,300 items Explore
  • 760 items Explore
  • 6,046 items Explore
  • 11 items
  • 7,802 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 5,358 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 3,731 items Explore
  • 9,199 items Explore
  • 7,752 items Explore
  • 200 items
  • 19 items
  • 142 items
  • 7 items
  • 869 items Explore
  • 19 items
  • 4,152 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1,096 items Explore
  • 223 items
  • 1 items
  • 3,553 items Explore
  • 20 items
  • 696 items Explore
  • 18 items
  • 134 items
  • 6,730 items Explore
  • 15,867 items Explore
  • 3,147 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 7 items
  • 9,323 items Explore
  • 37 items
  • 2 items
  • 21,314 items Explore
  • 129 items
  • 38 items
  • 13,167 items Explore
  • 3,398 items Explore
  • 2,151 items Explore
  • 44 items
  • 42,260 items Explore
  • 635 items Explore
  • 415 items
  • 1 items
  • 25,077 items Explore
  • 218 items
  • 3 items
  • 1 items
  • 20 items
  • 27 items
  • 326 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 217 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 2 items
  • 13,211 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 10,261 items
  • 9 items
  • 10 items
  • 14 items
  • 25 items
  • 1 items
  • 4,528 items Explore
  • 918 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 614 items
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 220 items
  • 702 items Explore
  • 42 items
  • 2,283 items Explore
  • 1,662 items Explore
  • 15 items
  • 1,928 items Explore
  • 151 items
  • 84 items
  • 10 items Explore
  • 3,126 items Explore
  • 43 items
  • 17 items
  • 12 items
  • 10,684 items Explore
  • 23,113 items Explore
  • 18 items
  • 1 items
  • 1,373 items
  • 180 items Explore
  • 8 items
  • 92 items
  • 13,316 items Explore
  • 3,574 items Explore
  • 2,669 items Explore
  • 4,779 items Explore
  • 22 items
  • 45 items
  • 6,899 items Explore
  • 4,775 items Explore
  • 272 items Explore
  • 2,300 items Explore
  • 2,977 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 1,865 items Explore
  • 290 items
  • 223 items Explore
  • 470 items Explore
  • 6,118 items Explore
  • 8,809 items Explore
  • 1,858 items Explore
  • 5,793 items Explore
  • 3,339 items Explore
  • 11,064 items Explore
  • 86 items
  • 11 items
  • 2,658 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 24 items
  • 51 items
  • 5 items
  • 1 items
  • 2,969 items Explore
  • 617 items Explore
  • 62 items
  • 17 items
  • 151 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 87 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 463 items
  • 7 items
  • 996 items Explore
  • 3,612 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 9,382 items Explore
  • 48 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 42 items
  • 3 items
  • 13,714 items Explore
  • 1,168 items Explore
  • 92 items
  • 10,562 items Explore
  • 1,002 items Explore
  • 1,920 items
  • 7,568 items Explore
  • 21 items
  • 12,945 items Explore
  • 1,418 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 9,570 items Explore
  • 16,422 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1,669 items Explore
  • 180 items
  • 58 items
  • 5,684 items Explore
  • 9,396 items Explore
  • 48 items
  • 25 items
  • 2 items
  • 59 items
  • 3 items
  • 7,392 items Explore
  • 402 items Explore
  • 13 items
  • 4 items
  • 6 items
  • 4 items
  • 103 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 5 items
  • 480 items
  • 298 items Explore
  • 8,486 items Explore
  • 55 items
  • 22,503 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 7,350 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 26 items
  • 3,832 items Explore
  • 431 items
  • 339 items Explore
  • 12,699 items Explore
  • 55 items
  • 20 items
  • 7 items
  • 4 items
  • 315 items Explore
  • 434 items
  • 183 items
  • 3,689 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 1,231 items Explore
  • 2,493 items Explore
  • 732 items Explore
  • 36 items
  • 1,135 items Explore
  • 97 items Explore
  • 24 items
  • 217 items Explore
  • 74,357 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,065 items Explore
  • 2,847 items Explore
  • 236 items
  • 3,617 items Explore
  • 1,832 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 17,359 items Explore
  • 5,508 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 632 items Explore
  • 85 items
  • 20 items
  • 39 items
  • 76 items
  • 29 items
  • 176 items
  • 3 items
  • 41 items
  • 1,176 items Explore
  • 109 items
  • 805 items
  • 17 items
  • 11,194 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 13 items
  • 1,548 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 214 items
  • 17,029 items Explore
  • 85 items
  • 17 items
  • 1 items
  • 9 items
  • 8 items
  • 324 items
  • 2 items
  • 626 items Explore
  • 1,587 items Explore
  • 8 items
  • 1,034 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 261 items

Select a time period

Or choose a specific year

Clear all filters

Convoy arriving with Wounded

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

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

1927

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

NT 790176

Caption

The artist Sir Stanley Spencer (1891–1959) had an unflinching eye for capturing everyday detail and instilling it with meaning. His commission for Sandham Memorial Chapel, one of the greatest painted schemes of 20th-century British art, is utterly remarkable. Spencer served in the First World War as a medical orderly outside Bristol, and then on the Macedonian front, and later drew on his experiences to create this masterpiece. The paintings were commissioned by John Louis Behrend (1881–1972) and his wife Mary (1884–1977) as a memorial to Mary’s brother Henry ‘Hal’ Sandham (1876–1920), who had also served in Macedonia and died of an illness after the war. Many of the paintings depict ordinary scenes, such as hospital interiors, the wounded arriving by bus, an inspection of kit, and tasks such as cleaning, preparing food, sorting laundry and filling tea urns. One painting, Map Reading, depicts an officer on horseback consulting a map with Macedonian place names while soldiers pick berries. The simplicity and banal nature of these subjects, showing both military personnel and civilians, provided a type of antidote to the remembered horrors of war. The chapel was given to the Trust in 1947 by the original patrons.

Summary

Oil painting on canvas, Convoy arriving with Wounded by Sir Stanley Spencer, CBE, RA (Cookham 1891– Cliveden 1959), 1927, North Wall, Sandham Memorial Chapel, Burghclere. A convoy of wounded soldiers arrive in an open-topped bus at the Beaufort War Hospital, Bristol. Two hospital workers pull open large wrought-iron gates; the warder on the right is based on Sam Vickery, a gatekeeper who had frightened Spencer when he worked as an orderly at Beaufort. The keys suspended from the gatekeeper’s belt are copied from the Chapel’s own keys. Spencer found it difficult to remember the specific details of the hospital gateway so filled the area with rhododendrons inspired by those that grew on the lanes around Burghclere.

Full description

The mural cycle for the Sandham Memorial Chapel in Burghclere, Hampshire, is regarded as one of the greatest war memorials of the twentieth century. Its nineteen canvases convey not the horror and bloodshed of the battlefield, but the quotidian routines and human interactions Spencer himself experienced, first as an orderly for the Royal Army Medical Corps (1915), and later as an orderly and infantryman on the Macedonian Front (1916-7). The scheme is comprised of sixteen predella and round-arched oil paintings on canvas and two lengths of oil on canvas extending to the ceilings, adhered to the north and south walls. Filling the entire east wall behind the altar is the startlingly powerful Resurrection, the largest single canvas in the series. The cycle begins with a convoy of injured soldiers returned home for treatment at Beaufort Hospital, Bristol. Originally an asylum, the hospital was commandeered during the First World War but retained a permanent wing for the mentally ill. Having enlisted in the RAMC after the outbreak of war (1914), Spencer was posted to Beaufort in July 1915. He observed life and service at Beaufort with acute interest, committing to memory scenes he would later transfer onto the walls of Sandham Chapel. Spencer found most of his daily work tedious, but absorbed with grim fascination everything he saw, from sponges to frostbitten toes. His natural ebullience and curiosity ameliorated what he called the ‘innumerable unanalysable mental shocks’ of hospital work (Notebook, 1944-5, Tate Archive, TGA 733.3.85). A man of intense albeit idiosyncratic Christian faith, Spencer also believed that menial work and everyday things had spiritual value: a notion taken from the Confessions of St Augustine, which had been introduced to him by his long-term friend, the poet Desmond Chute. The scenes at Sandham are thus composed of and reveal essential aspects of human existence: the daily needs and struggles of men over passages of time. In the second canvas, for example, Spencer depicts orderlies on the bread-run who narrowly miss a solider lying prostrate and shell-shocked at the corner of a dark corridor, obsessively scrubbing a patch of floor. In subsequent scenes the bodily processes which set the rhythms of hospital life are subject. The third canvas, Ablutions, shows soldiers washing and shaving at sinks while one man’s wounds are daubed with iodine; in a later predella, frostbitten feet are forensically inspected to prevent necrosis. Nearby, convalescents on a ward tuck in to stacks of soft white bread, generously buttered and served with jam, as others snooze and one young man carefully combs a parting into his hair. In other scenes orderlies sort through mounds of laundry and fill tea urns in the kitchens, the only part of the hospital shared by working psychiatric patients. In the summer of 1916, Spencer was transferred overseas to Macedonia where the Salonika campaign was underway. It was his first time abroad. He served with the field ambulance divisions before volunteering, in August 1917, for the 7th battalion Royal Berkshires and spent several months on the front line. The first canvas to depict Macedonia is Dug-Out, in which soldiers in trenches ready themselves for combat. Looming over them are ominous storm-clouds rendered as densely packed and rusting loops of barbed wire. The persistent threat of disease is alluded to in Reveille, in which a cloud of malarial mosquitos hover above men shrouded in protective nets. Malaria claimed 160,000 casualties during the campaign, and Spencer himself fell victim (three times), as did the Chapel’s dedicatee, Hal Sandham. Rest and replenishment comes in the form of Map Reading, a scene redolent of lazy summer days in England but which actually shows a route-march in Macedonia. Pausing en-route, the officer commanding reads a map while troops fan out around him to nap on grassy verges and gorge on berries. The tranquillity and abundance of the scene is a counterpoint to Filling Waterbottles, the adjacent panel, in which infantrymen scramble to quench their thirst in the blistering Macedonian heat. The Resurrection of the Soldiers, an emotive and monumental pièce de résistance, occupies the six-by-five metre wall behind the high altar and shows the war-dead coming back to life, to a time of peace. Spencer wrote that he had ‘buried so many people and saw so many dead bodies’ during the war ‘that he felt that death could not be the end of everything’ (cited in Gough 2006, p. 152). In the foreground, behind the altar and in direct relation to it, men emerge from the earth and through the disorderly mass of white wooden crosses that marked their graves. Each one of the many crosses depicted serve as objects of devotion, some are being carried by soldiers to Christ, the diminutive figure robed in white, near the apex of the picture. Spencer had explored the theme in the celebrated tableau The Resurrection, Cookham (Tate N04239) and would return to it in the years that followed. The mural cycle for the Sandham Memorial Chapel in Burghclere, Hampshire, is regarded as one of the greatest war memorials of the twentieth century. Its nineteen canvases convey not the horror and bloodshed of the battlefield, but the quotidian routines and human interactions Spencer himself experienced, first as an orderly for the Royal Army Medical Corps (1915), and later as an orderly and infantryman on the Macedonian Front (1916-7). The scheme is comprised of sixteen predella and round-arched oil paintings on canvas and two lengths of oil on canvas extending to the ceilings, adhered to the north and south walls. Filling the entire east wall behind the altar is the startlingly powerful Resurrection, the largest single canvas in the series. The cycle begins with a convoy of injured soldiers returned home for treatment at Beaufort Hospital, Bristol. Originally an asylum, the hospital was commandeered during the First World War but retained a permanent wing for the mentally ill. Having enlisted in the RAMC after the outbreak of war (1914), Spencer was posted to Beaufort in July 1915. He observed life and service at Beaufort with acute interest, committing to memory scenes he would later transfer onto the walls of Sandham Chapel. Spencer found most of his daily work tedious, but absorbed with grim fascination everything he saw, from sponges to frostbitten toes. His natural ebullience and curiosity ameliorated what he called the ‘innumerable unanalysable mental shocks’ of hospital work (Notebook, 1944-5, Tate Archive, TGA 733.3.85). A man of intense albeit idiosyncratic Christian faith, Spencer also believed that menial work and everyday things had spiritual value: a notion taken from the Confessions of St Augustine, which had been introduced to him by his long-term friend, the poet Desmond Chute. The scenes at Sandham are thus composed of and reveal essential aspects of human existence: the daily needs and struggles of men over passages of time. In the second canvas, for example, Spencer depicts orderlies on the bread-run who narrowly miss a solider lying prostrate and shell-shocked at the corner of a dark corridor, obsessively scrubbing a patch of floor. In subsequent scenes the bodily processes which set the rhythms of hospital life are subject. The third canvas, Ablutions, shows soldiers washing and shaving at sinks while one man’s wounds are daubed with iodine; in a later predella, frostbitten feet are forensically inspected to prevent necrosis. Nearby, convalescents on a ward tuck in to stacks of soft white bread, generously buttered and served with jam, as others snooze and one young man carefully combs a parting into his hair. In other scenes orderlies sort through mounds of laundry and fill tea urns in the kitchens, the only part of the hospital shared by working psychiatric patients. In the summer of 1916, Spencer was transferred overseas to Macedonia where the Salonika campaign was underway. It was his first time abroad. He served with the field ambulance divisions before volunteering, in August 1917, for the 7th battalion Royal Berkshires and spent several months on the front line. The first canvas to depict Macedonia is Dug-Out, in which soldiers in trenches ready themselves for combat. Looming over them are ominous storm-clouds rendered as densely packed and rusting loops of barbed wire. The persistent threat of disease is alluded to in Reveille, in which a cloud of malarial mosquitos hover above men shrouded in protective nets. Malaria claimed 160,000 casualties during the campaign, and Spencer himself fell victim (three times), as did the Chapel’s dedicatee, Hal Sandham. Rest and replenishment comes in the form of Map Reading, a scene redolent of lazy summer days in England but which actually shows a route-march in Macedonia. Pausing en-route, the officer commanding reads a map while troops fan out around him to nap on grassy verges and gorge on berries. The tranquillity and abundance of the scene is a counterpoint to Filling Waterbottles, the adjacent panel, in which infantrymen scramble to quench their thirst in the blistering Macedonian heat. The Resurrection of the Soldiers, an emotive and monumental pièce de résistance, occupies the six-by-five metre wall behind the high altar and shows the war-dead coming back to life, to a time of peace. Spencer wrote that he had ‘buried so many people and saw so many dead bodies’ during the war ‘that he felt that death could not be the end of everything’ (cited in Gough 2006, p. 152). In the foreground, behind the altar and in direct relation to it, men emerge from the earth and through the disorderly mass of white wooden crosses that marked their graves. Each one of the many crosses depicted serve as objects of devotion, some are being carried by soldiers to Christ, the diminutive figure robed in white, near the apex of the picture. Spencer had explored the theme in the celebrated tableau The Resurrection, Cookham (Tate N04239) and would return to it in the years that followed. The commission Constructed to designs by Lionel Pearson in the 1920s, Sandham Memorial Chapel was purpose-built to house Spencer’s mural cycle. Both building and decorative scheme were commissioned by the visionary art patrons and collectors John Louis Behrend (1881-1972) and Mary Behrend (1883-1977). The Behrends lived in Burghclere and had been introduced to Spencer through the artist Henry Lamb (1883-1960). Consecrated as an Oratory to All Souls, the chapel was built to commemorate Mary’s brother Henry (Hal) Willoughby Sandham, who, like Spencer and Lamb, had served in Macedonia but who had died of malaria-related illness in 1919. Although the mural cycle was painted on canvas, Spencer had originally intended to execute it in fresco, in keeping with his main point of reference, the fresco cycle painted by Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337) for the Scrovegni Chapel, Padua. His love for Giotto and other Italian early-Renaissance artists began as a student at the Slade School of Art (1908-12), and developed through regular visits to the National Gallery and to exhibitions of Italian Renaissance art mounted in the pre-war years at the Royal Academy, the Burlington Fine Arts Club and the Grafton Gallery. Spencer brought his art books with him during his military service, ‘So that even Giotto is dragged into this drill’ (Spencer to Desmond Chute, quoted in Carline 1978, pp. 62-3). After a painting exhibition to Yugoslavia in 1922, Spencer began making drawings for a series of war paintings based on his experiences in Macedonia and Beaufort. These would develop into the detailed pencil and wash studies for site-specific murals made in the summer of 1923 at Henry Lamb’s house in Poole. Echoing the Scrovegni Chapel, the architectural scheme Spencer envisaged had sidewalls in two registers with a series of arched upper panels and predellas, and an unbroken end wall behind the altar. The Behrends saw these designs on a visit to Lamb’s house that year, and Spencer’s ‘Holy Box’ was set in motion. Some of the early panels were painted at Lamb’s studio in Hampstead which the artist rented before moving to Burghclere to work in situ in 1926. The cycle was completed in 1932.

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

Behrend 1965: George Behrend, Stanley Spencer at Burghclere, London 1965, pp. 6-8 Carline 1978: Richard Carline, Stanley Spencer at War, London 1978, p. 177 Bell, Carline and Causey 1980: Keith Bell, Richard Carline and Andrew Causey, Stanley Spencer (exh.cat., Royal Academy, London 1980), p. 102. Robinson 1990: Duncan Robinson, Stanley Spencer, Oxford 1990, p. 41 Pople 1991: Kenneth Pople, Stanley Spencer: A Biography,London 1991, pp. 96, 259-264 Bell 1992: Keith Bell, Stanley Spencer, A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, London 1992, p. 420 Hyman and Wright 2001: Timothy Hyman and Patrick Wright, Stanley Spencer (exh.cat. Tate, London 2001) Glew 2001: Adrian Glew (ed.), Stanley Spencer: Letters and Writings, (Tate, London 2001) Gough 2006: Paul Gough, Stanley Spencer: Journey to Burghclere, Bristol 2006, pp. 114-115 Bromwell 2014: Tom Bromwell, ‘The “God Box” of Burghclere, National Trust Historic Houses & Collections Annual, Apollo, 2014, pp. 54-9 Bradley and Watson 2013: Amanda Bradley and Howard Watson (eds.) Stanley Spencer, Heaven in a Hell of War, (exh.cat. Somerset House, London and Pallant House, Chichester 2013-14 Gough 2017: Paul Gough et al, ‘The Holy Box’, The Genesis of Stanley Spencer’s Sandham Memorial Chapel, (Samson and Co, Bristol 2017)

View more details

Related articles