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- Artist: SPENCER; Stanley (1891 - 1959); Sir
- Production Date: 1935 - 1945
- Production Period:
- Object Name: Oil Painting
- ObjectNumber: OP787
- Date: 1935 - 1945
- Summary: A man carries cabbages that he has just dug up from the ground. He is weary, solid and heavy. Behind him, a boy threads conkers onto a length of string. A girl skewers a chestnut, while another looks into the hollow of a tree. The materials of their clothes, and the weight of their bodies, make them seem part of nature.
- Description: Spencer has included himself in the picture as the young boy treading chestnuts. His paintings reflected the importance of childhood and Spencer attempted to recapture the freshness and intensity of a child's view of the world. This picture was used as the design of a tapestry. He would rarely change anything between prepratory sketches to finish paintings. He felt that any faults were part of his first inner vision and to change them would create a different picture. Spencer had an almost religious feel for everyday events. He saw delight in the colour and texture of commonplace things such as the cabbages seen in the foreground of this picture. Spencer produced the small oil of Chestnuts (c1949, Wolverhampton Art Gallery) as the design for his tapestry for Dovecot Studios, which was woven in 1949. The oil derived in turn from the artist's Scrapbook drawing of Chestnuts, made some years earlier. The drawing (currently on long-term loan to the Stanley Spencer Gallery) was in volume 1 of his Scrapbooks, which was in use from 1939-43. It is reproduced in Carolyn Leder Stanley Spencer: The Astor Collection, 1976, no.11. The oil and therefore the tapestry derive faithfully from the drawing. Incidentally, Spencer had been wildly 'excited' by his visit to Dovecot Studios and wanted them to weave 'all his works': he suggested The Resurrection, Cookham (Tate) but it was pointed out to him that it would take four years to weave! In the event only this single tapestry, also usually entitled Chestnuts (although there are alternative titles), was woven. The tapestry and the drawing were shown at the Stanley Spencer Gallery's 50th anniversary exhibition in 2012. The tapestry features in a short 'opera', A Tapestry of Many Threads, with a libretto by Alexander McCall Smith, which was commissioned by Dovecot Studios in 2012.
- Dimensions: 50.5 x 38 cm (Framed size) 39.3 x 25.2 cm (Image size)
- Credit Line: Purchased with assistance from the V&A purchase grant fund and the Friends of the Art Gallery
- Related People:
- For more information contact: Wolverhampton Arts and Museums Service