Mind and Mortality: Stanley Spencer’s Final Portraits
Stanley Spencer Gallery is delighted to present Mind and Mortality: Stanley Spencer’s Final Portraits. Comprised of 26 works, the exhibition spans fifty years from 1909 until the artist’s death on the eve of the 1960s and reveals not only the importance of portraiture to Spencer’s artistic practice, but also the intimacy and unflinching candour he brought to it.
Mind and Mortality, which includes works in oil, drawings, pen and inks and a single lithograph, is formed of three parts: Self-Portraits, Mind, Body and Spirit, and The People and Portraits of Spencer’s Final Years. The cornerstone of the exhibition is Spencer’s two final self-portraits, made when he was dying of cancer, displayed side by side for the first time. The first is a drawing in red conté which was recently acquired by Stanley Spencer Gallery. The other, on loan from Tate, London, is Spencer’s final self-portrait in oil paint. They were commissioned by a friend of artist, who rejected the drawing, probably because she found its unflinching gaze too uncomfortable.
The presentation also includes Spencer’s earliest known self-portrait from 1912, on loan from the Williamson Art Gallery and Museum Birkenhead, and a drawing of his brother, Gilbert, dated 1909, when Stanley was just seventeen and Gilbert sixteen.
On loan from the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry, is Spencer’s heart-breaking portrait of Priscilla Ashwanden.
- Esmee Wright
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