Monday, 18 July 2011

Stanley Spencer meets Capability Brown



Spencer v. Brown. It sounds like one of those weird pub questions - e.g. which animal would win if a badger fought a marlin - but more genteel.

But this post is on an exhibition celebrating the works of these two dead Englishman, held at Compton Verney, somewhere between Warwick and Stratford Upon Avon (although I'm now wondering who would win if Shakespeare, Spencer and Brown fought it out?).

Stanley Spencer is best known for his 'mystical biblical scenes and candid self-portraits' (Parissien, see below). He also did one of the best 'straight' self-portraits you are likely to see, painted in 1914 and hanging in the Tait. Much of his painting was done around Cookham, on the River Thames, and (if you are really interested) a place where I collected a nice red alga (Thorea) some years ago.


This Compton Verney exhibition concerns his garden landscapes. Nothing controversial or worrisome here. Compton Verney is a homestead surrounded by Capability Brown designed landscape (largely paddocks and clumps of trees) and a pleasant place to revisit Spencer, and Brown. 

The Stanley Spencer display included Wisteria, Cookham; Bellrope Meadow; Cottages at Burghciere; Red Magnolia; Boatbuilder’s Yard, Cookham; and Greenhouse and Garden. The first three are illustrated here, in that order, photographed by me from the exhibition guidebook by Steven Parissien. I liked all the paintings but then I have a soft spot for Spencer (borrowed from my father, as are most of my artistic leanings).


The Capability Brown exhibition covered his garden and building design, with examples from various properaties around England. Spencer too was connected to building design, but only tenuously.

Of course while in the area we paid homage to this man and visited a house or two related to his apparent life.


The garden in the picture below is a recreated Elizabethan Knot Garden behind the house that was (among other things) next to where William lived in his later years.

3 comments:

Merricks said...

Stunning paintings, stunning gardens. And now I must follow up Spencer.

Jeremy Beauregard said...

The recreated Knot Garden looks amazing! The variety of colors make it look pleasing to the eye. When the flower garden aficionados here see this, they'll definitely want to get a close look at that garden.

Tim Entwisle said...

Yes it's done well. Of course a sunny day makes any garden look good but this one was worth looking at for ideas.