PORT GLASGOW CEMETERY 1947
Sir Stanley Spencer (1891 – 1959)
- 50.8 X 76.2 CM
- OIL ON CANVAS
- Accession number
During the Second World War Spencer was appointed an official war artist in 1940 and the Committee commissioned a painting ‘of shipbuilding and a painting of an aerodrome’. In May 1940 Spencer travelled to Port Glasgow to work at Lithgows’s ship yards. He filled innumerable sketchbooks with plans for a complete series of paintings detailing the activities of the yard. A scaled-down version of the plan was eventually accepted by the committee and Spencer set to work. By 1943 his enthusiasm has begun to wane and he turned to a project closer to his heart: the celebration of Port Glasgow in a large painting some 15 metres across with Christ seated in Judgement on the Hill of Zion as figures rise from their graves. In the event such a huge work proved impractical, but Spencer endeavoured to retain part of his original scheme and The Resurrection, Port Glasgow, although much modified became the main section, whose central picture The Hill of Zion(collection of the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston) was inspired by the shape of the hill on which Port Glasgow cemetery was sited. In a notebook Spencer recorded that due to a jazz band playing downstairs in the house where he was living, he went for a walk ‘up along the road past the gasworks to where I saw a cemetery on a gently rising slope … I seemed then to see that all in the plain were resurrecting and moving towards it … I knew then that the resurrection would be directed from this hill’. Beyond the cemetery can be seen the roof tops of nearby houses and the river Clyde.
R H Wilenski, Stanley Spencer: Resurrection Paintings 1945-50, Faber, London 1951
Men of the Clyde: Stanley Spencer’s Vision of Port Glasgow, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, 2000
Stanley ‘Love, desire, Faith’, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal 2002
Work of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is a tightly stretched piece of canvas, paper or a wooden panel. Painting involves a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's intellectual concerns effecting the content of a work.