Lot 51
  • 51

Sir Stanley Spencer, R.A.

1,500 - 2,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Sir Stanley Spencer, R.A.
  • Mother and Child (Study for Crèche Series)
  • pencil on tracing paper, squared for transfer
  • 29.5 by 19cm.; 11½ by 7½in.
  • Executed circa the 1940s.


Sale, Christie's London, Stanley Spencer Studio Sale, 5th November 1998 (part lot, details untraced)where acquired by the present owner

Catalogue Note

We are grateful to Carolyn Leder for her kind assistance with the cataloguing of the present work.

This is a sketch for the Crèche series, for which there are no known pictures and only a handful of published drawings. A study for the whole composition, Study for the Crèche series 1940s, is in the Stanley Spencer Gallery (Barbara Karmel Bequest, 1995).1

A note and annotated sketch in the artist’s papers provide a key to the subject matter (Tate Archive/TGA 733.9.2). Spencer wrote that ‘it is home life scenes surrounding the Visitation I call it Creache [sic] because the chief motive [sic] is children.’

In the Stanley Spencer Gallery’s drawing a frieze-like series of figures appear in the foreground, in front of Spencer’s childhood home, Fernlea, in Cookham High Street. In the centre, two larger figures, drawn to a different scale, represent the Visitation.

Just to the right of centre, is a version of the sketch in this sale, though without the pattern on the woman’s dress. Spencer referred to the adult as an ‘old nurse’, winding wool in her hands while a small child stands on her lap.

The small figure of Spencer’s brother Sydney, using shears to cut the privet hedge in front of Fernlea, appears in the lower right-hand corner of the sketch in this sale. It features in reverse, just to the right of the ‘old nurse’, in the Stanley Spencer Gallery’s drawing. It had already been published as a motif in one of Spencer’s designs for April in the Chatto & Windus Almanack for 1927, the only book he ever illustrated. Stanley had been close to his brother Sydney who planned to take Holy Orders. He was awarded the MC, but was killed in France on 24 September 1918, the final casualty in his battalion before the end of the First World War. His name is recorded on Cookham’s War Memorial.

Carolyn Leder


1 Carolyn Leder: The Barbara Karmel Bequest, no.11, Stanley Spencer Gallery, 2nd edition 2010