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25 October 2017Visit to the John Lewis Archives and Stanley Spencer Gallery
14 June 2017Overnight visit to Brighton- Royal Pavilion, Constable Exhibition, Chichester Cathedral and Pallant House.
10 May 2017Watts Gallery and Limnerslease, the artists home.
17 November 2016Blenheim Palace and Christmas Fair- Living Crafts for Christmas
22 June 2016Overnight visit to Salisbury Cathedral, Mompresson House and Wilton House. 22-23 June 2016
27 April 2016A Guided Tour of the National Portrait Gallery
25 November 2015Glyndebourne Backstage
18 June 2015Cambridge: Fitzwilliam Museum and Anglesey Abbey
10 June 2015Nether Winchendon
08 October 2014The EY Exhibition: Late Turner – Painting Set Free Tate Britain
25 June 2014Sudeley Castle and Sezincote
28 May 2014Visit to Stonor and Nuffield Place
13 February 2014Visit to Leighton House and Linley Sambourne House
13 November 2013Barber Institute of Fine Arts
20 June 2013Visit to Wormsly Library
28 November 2012Bletchley Park
27 June 2012Tyntesfield & Bath
23 May 2012Tate to Tate

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Visit to the John Lewis Archives and Stanley Spencer Gallery
Wednesday 25 October 2017

Click here for details of the visit

Paintings and drawings by Stanley Spencer are on show this autumn in a new exhibition at the Stanley Spencer Gallery, High Street, Cookham. 

They include the Portrait of Lathonia Mercer, Oct 1959, described by Lord Mark Poltimore, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby's Europe as:

"a stunning portrait of a beautiful lady by the great, great painter Stanley Spencer … he is an absolute genius … you can see by the portrait … how wonderful it is, the attention to detail is phenomenal, he has an almost Pre-Raphaelite exactness … he is majestic … people just love Stanley Spencer and they will love this work."
Lathonia Miller (née Mercer) has recently gifted the highly acclaimed work to the Stanley Spencer Gallery Collection. Her father was the artist's GP and treated Stanley towards the end of his life. Concerned that Stanley was not eating properly he asked him to the family home where Lathonia's mother made meals for him. It was during these visits that the portrait was drawn.

Just engaged to be married, Lathonia remembers how Stanley was lit it up by the idea of her engagement and set to work starting 'with my eyes, to ensure the face was in the right position on the paper and he wanted especially to include the (engagement) ring on my finger.'

This charming portrait is an absolute gem, as is Retrieving a Ball, 1954 (lithograph) also gifted by Lathonia and on display in this new exhibition. Set in a ploughed field in countryside around the Village, the artist's great draughtsmanship shines through in a complex drawing of rhythm and pattern so typical of Spencer. 

That Stanley Spencer possessed acute observational skills and a remarkable visual memory is well documented. His boyhood attempts to copy the style of admired children's book illustrators soon progressed to a desire to take his art 'out into the Cookham day' and capture his beloved home village and residents on paper and canvas.

Attending the Slade School of Fine Art in London (1908-1912) Spencer was taught by Henry Tonks, a doctor who was greatly skilled as an artist and draughtsman. As a medical man Tonks emphasised the underlying anatomical structure of a life model, and was responsible for what became known as the 'Slade style' of drawing. Students would learn to look intently at their model in order to understand the form of the face or body. 
The many fine pencil portraits displayed in this new exhibition demonstrate that Spencer became a master of this technique and used it throughout his life. According to Gallery archivist Ann Danks:

"Tonks claimed that Spencer had the most original mind of any of his students. Evidence of this originality can be seen throughout this exhibition. Visionary works from the artist's deeply spiritual imagination hang alongside penetrating portraits, beautiful landscapes and studies for Second World War commissioned paintings. All aim to bring the talent and ingenuity of Stanley Spencer sharply In Focus."

A lithograph of Burners, 1941, taken from the central section of the first in Spencer's Shipbuilding on the Clyde series is emblematic of this ravishing new exhibition. Produced as a poster to encourage the war effort, in the top right hand corner the artist himself is seen observing the figures hard at work in the shipyard.

Similarly visitors to the Gallery from 4th October 2017 will have a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with Spencer's work and focus on perennial favourites such as The Last Supper, 1920 and Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta, 1952-9; easy-on-the-eye garden greats such as Greenhouse Interior, c1935; sensational new additions to the Gallery collection that also include Portrait of Albert Henry Seager, April 1916, a rare drawing of Spencer's from the early years of World War 1 and kindly gifted by the sitter's family earlier this year. 


The John Lewis Partnership Heritage Centre is home to the Partnership’s business archive and the textile archive of Stead McAlpin, a fabric printing factory in Carlisle that was once owned by the Partnership.

The textile viewing gallery contains over 4000 of the archive’s designs in both paper and fabric format, with gems from famous designers such as Lucienne Day, Charles Voysey and William Morris.

You can walk to the Centre, which is located at the end of Odney Lane, over the bridge and to the left in Grove Farm field.