Patron Saints

Collecting Stanley Spencer

Amanda Bradley

Stanley Spencer's patrons have never before been studied collectively. Drawing on archival research and conversations with Spencer's family and descendants of patrons, this exciting new publication looks at how collecting habits were affected by war and economic change.
Publication date:
March 2018
Publisher :
Paul Holberton Publishing
Illustration :
70 colour illus.
Format Available     Quantity Price
ISBN : 9781911300434

Dimensions : 237 X 194 mm
Available in 3-4 weeks


Patron Saints: Collecting Stanley Spencer is a revealing new exhibition at the renowned Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham - Spencer's spiritual home and major source of inspiration. The exhibition draws together a spectacular collection of loans, including The Centurion's Servant (Tate); Love on the Moor (Fitzwilliam); John Donne Arriving in Heaven, (Fitzwilliam) and one work not seen in the public domain in over 50 years. The exhibition and catalogue examine the often complex relationships between Spencer and his patrons and what drove them to collect his work. Spencer was a single-minded genius, but the influence of his patrons on his painting is far greater than has hitherto been realised.

At the turn of the century, collecting art was no longer the preserve of the aristocracy and the upper classes, but Spencer's art appealed to a broad spectrum of art lovers, fellow artists, businessmen and politicians. Many of his patrons lived in Cookham, where he lived and found artistic inspiration, and many of his paintings were influenced by his spiritual feelings for that place. His idiosyncratic and deeply
personal approach gave him a wide and enduring appeal, and he was patronised by some of the most important cultural figures and taste-makers of that time.

Curator Amanda Bradley comments, "Behind Stanley Spencer, one of the greatest Modern British artists, were a group of individuals who enabled his very existence - both artistically and emotionally. They were not wildly rich, but they were powerful, cultivated, intellectual and artistic. Some bought on spec, others were true patrons, giving him the freedom to fulfil his artistic genius. Most fostered long-lived relationships with the artist, influencing his life and work more than has hitherto been realised. These were the patron saints.”

Patron Saints: Collecting Stanley Spencer explores the emergence of Spencer as an artistic personality, looking at those who helped him and why he - and his popularity - was a product of the zeitgeist (first half of the twentieth century) characterised by social and economic anxiety.