16 Jun 18. A bit of a pilgrimage for me this one – I’ve long wanted to see Stanley Spencer’s wall paintings at Sandham Memorial Chapel, Burghclere. I wasn’t disappointed. Spencer was an admirer of Giotto, the Italian painter and architect of the early Renaissance who painted the frescos in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua.
Giotto’s nativity scene in the Scrovegni Chapel:
Spencer’s paintings in the “Holy box” as he called it, is based on his memories of his First World War service as a medical orderly in a military hospital in Bristol and on active duty on the Salonica Front, in present-day Greece. It took Spencer eight years to complete.
Some images from the chapel:
The massive altar wall features “The Resurrection of the Soldiers”, where the dead rise from the battlefield and return their grave crosses to Christ. I’ve always been fascinated by the way that Spencer depicted the human form – often in an unrealistic, distorted way, but somehow it seems right.
Sandham Chapel is owned by The National Trust.