June 30, 2004
::: wood s lot ::: notes that today would have been the 103rd birthday of Sir Stanley Spencer, the fine somewhat-more-than-slightly mystical British figurative painter.
In 1998, I was in San Francisco about to start a trial in a case involving a dispute between owners of a racehorse. Thanks to the diligent efforts of the judge (and my opponents' unspoken knowledge that I was likely to be proven right on the dispositive legal point) the parties managed to arrive at a settlement. We finished hammering out the details that afternoon just early enough for me to race over to the Palace of the Legion of Honor to view a large Spencer retrospective before closing time. I have been a Spencer fancier ever since. (No visuals from that exhibition are available, but the museum's press release provides useful information.) I've mentioned Spencer previously here.
Those are Sir Stanley's eyes at upper right, in a fair use excerpt from his very late 1959 self-portrait. Among the largest holdings of his work are those in the Tate Modern, collected online here. (The Tate's collection includes Spencer's semi-infamous "leg of lamb" nude of himself and his then wife, Patricia Preece, but copyright restrictions prevent even the Tate from reproducing it. In a 2001 Slate piece, Timothy Noah quoted a character in a novel by Philip Roth, of all people, describing that painting.)
To the links at ::: wood s lot ::: I will add this one: an extraordinarily deep analysis of Spencer's great Cookham Resurrection, part of a much larger site maintained by Spencer biographer Kenneth Pople "especially for those who find [Spencer's] paintings odd or obscure."