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Page last updated at 12:08 GMT, Friday, 5 November 2010
Stanley Spencer drawings unveiled for first time
by Jenny Minard
BBC Berkshire Reporter

Stanley Spencer painting
Sarah Tubb and the Heavenly Visitors (c.1933) is on show

Previously unseen drawings by Stanley Spencer are to be unveiled to the public for the first time.

The winter exhibition opening this weekend features works which were bequeathed to the gallery by collector Barbara Karmel.

It includes four oil paintings and eight drawings by the Cookham artist.

The works were donated in 1995. Stanley Spencer was born in Cookham in 1891. He served on the frontline in World War I in 1917.

When he returned he became an official wartime artist.

Personal life

He married a fellow artist's sister, Hilda Carline in 1925, and they lived in Hampstead.

They moved to Cookham in 1932 where he struck up a relationship with another artist - Dorothy Hepworth. It led to his divorce from Hilda.

Stanley Spencer
Stanley Spencer lived from 1891 until 1959

Stanley subsequently married Dorothy's friend Patricia Preece in 1937, just four days after his divorce from Hilda. That marriage also failed but Stanley paid her expenses until the day he died in 1959.

With his responsibility for his family and his lack of any ability to manage his own finances, Stanley needed to keep painting to earn money.

Hilda remained the love of his life and he continued to write to her even after her death.

He was awarded a CBE and a knighthood, and was also elected to the Royal Academy.

Included in the winter exhibition in Cookham High Street is a portrait of Stanley by his daughter, Unity Spencer, and a portrait of friend Dorothy Wooster by his brother, Gilbert Spencer (1892-1979).

Stanley left insights into his work in the form of notes written in his youth.

In 1942 he wrote: "My romances are as follows… Promenading Cookham village with Dot & Emmy (Wooster). Feel very much in love with them & gaze up very much at their window."

Dot appeared in several important early works, the first of which was The Fairy on the Waterlily Leaf.

Winter exhibition

The collection includes the painting, Sarah Tubb and the Heavenly Visitors (c.1933). Stanley based this work on the story of the appearance of the Halley's Comet in 1910.

It created an exceptional sunset which frightened Granny Tubb. She feared the end of the world had come and knelt by her gate in Cookham High Street to pray.

Stanley Spencer Gallery
The Stanley Spencer Gallery was opened in 1962

She is comforted by heavenly visitors, either angels or disciples, who present her with: "Emblems of what she is like."

His later skill in portrait drawing is seen in Portrait of Alice Greville, the wife of photographer Norman Greville, whose firm took Spencer's wedding photograph in 1937.

The gallery is dedicated to Stanley's life and works and was first opened in 1962.

The winter exhibition is open from 4 November, 2010 to 27 March, 2011. The gallery is open from Thursday to Sunday, 1100GMT to 1630GMT.

At Christmas the gallery is open 23 December until 2 January, 2011. It is closed Christmas Day.

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