Stanley Spencer's [religiosity] was marked by an almost mystical fervour. His understanding of Christianity had a pantheistic overlay that allowed for the incorporation of his own wilful and eccentric imaginings. Eroticism was an area of human experience to which Spencer's art gave uninhibited expression, though this incident-filled composition is comparatively chaste. A Christ of Romanesque solidity presides over workers, village worthies, children and most of the local football team. The setting is a cottage garden in Cookham, Spencer's rural birthplace which he habitually portrayed as an earthly paradise. Part of a series of canvases executed for the Church Home, 'Christ in Cookham' recalls the fastidious images of the Pre-Raphaelites. In this collection it can be usefully compared with Ford Madox Brown's 'Chaucer at the court of Edward III', painted a century earlier. [Spencer] saw in the structures of English society the worldly articulation of a godly plan.
AGNSW Handbook, 1999.
This work is from the series 'Pentecost Last Judgement' intended for the Church-House.
Christ Calling the Apostles
oil on canvas
127.0 x 205.7 cm stretcher; 141.5 x 220.8 x 7.5 cm frame
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Watson Bequest Fund 1952
Not on display
© Sir Stanley Spencer/DACS. Licensed by Copyright Agency
Shown in 6 exhibitions
Purchases and acquisitions for 1952, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 26 Mar 1953–24 May 1953
Contemporary Religious Art: Adelaide Festival of Arts 1962, National Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 17 Mar 1962–31 Mar 1962
Sir Stanley Spencer: Adelaide Festival of Arts 1966, National Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Mar 1966–Mar 1966
Stanley Spencer: An English Vision:
- Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. 09 Oct 1997–04 Jan 1998
- Centro Cultural/ Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico 19 Feb 1998–10 May 1998
- San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco 08 Jun 1998–06 Sep 1998
Everyday Miracles: the art of Stanley Spencer:
Modern Britain 1900-1960, NGV: International, Melbourne, 15 Nov 2007–24 Feb 2008
Arthur Tooth & Sons Ltd, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from Arthur Tooth & Sons 1952
Referenced in 15 publications
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 54 (colour illus.).
Keith Bell, Stanley Spencer - a complete catalogue of the paintings, London, 1992, 210-211 (illus.). cat.no. 378
René Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'European', pg. 36-56, Sydney, 1988, 55.
Renée Free, AGNSW Collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', pg. 108-172, Sydney, 1994, 161 (colour illus.).
Renée Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales catalogue of British paintings, Sydney, 1987, 183 (illus.).
Ted Gott, Laurie Benson and Sophie Matthiesson, Modern Britain 1900-1960, Melbourne, 2007, 157 (colour illus.).
Kitty Hauser, Stanley Spencer, 'Cookham', pg.30-45, London, 2001, 44, 45 (colour illus.). fig. 31
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', pg. 17-77, Sydney, 1999, 63 (colour illus.).
Anne Kirker and Peter Tomory, British painting 1800–1990 in Australian and New Zealand public collections, Sydney, 1997, 27 (colour illus.), 163. cat.no. 2060
Mary Kisler and Justin Paton (Curators), Everyday Miracles: the art of Stanley Spencer, Dunedin, 2003, cover (colour illus.), 68, 69 (colour illus.). no catalogue numbers
Fiona MacCarthy, Stanley Spencer: an English vision, New Haven, 1997, (colour illus.). cat.no. 56
Kenneth Pople, Stanley Spencer: a biography, London, 1991, 473.
Mary Sorrell, The Studio, 'The loved world of Stanley Spencer', pg.33-39, London, Feb 1954, 33 (illus.).
Adelaide Festival of Arts 1966: special exhibitions at the National Gallery of South Australia, 'Sir Stanley Spencer', Adelaide, 1966. cat.no. 20
The Adelaide Festival of Arts 1962: Special exhibitions at the National Gallery of South Australia, 'Contemporary Religious Art', Adelaide, 1962. cat.no. 11