Gilbert Spencer (1892 - 1979)

Gehazi and Naaman, c. 1930

SKU: 9242
Signed, Oil on canvas

Size:
Height – 86cm
Width – 60cm

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
The Artist’s family
Presentation:
framed

Spencer produced a series of drawings to illustrate The Ten Commandments ((Mill House Press, 1934). It is unclear as to whether one of the illustrations provided the basis for this oil composition, or that the illustration was inspired by the extant oil. A servant of the prophet Elisha, Gehazi enjoyed a position of power but was ultimately corrupt, misusing his authority to cheat Naaman the Syrian, a general afflicted with leprosy. As punishment, Elisha cursed Gehazi, transferring Naaman’s leprosy to him and his descendants forever, whereupon Gehazi turned ‘as white as snow’ (2 Kings 5.27).

In Rabbinic literature, Gehazi is identified as one of four commoners who forfeited his share in the afterlife because of his wickedness. He is the subject of a poem by Rudyard Kipling.

Biblical subject matter featured heavily in Gilbert Spencer’s early works. This seemed a natural concomitant from his training at the Slade, and the Summer Composition Competition, which frequently offered a Biblical or Classical theme for the artists’ brief. Henry Tonks was the Professor of Art throughout both Gilbert and Stanley Spencer’s tenure. Tonks was particularly fond of setting Biblical topics for this Prize, as Religious art is one of the most established genres of Western narrative painting, and demanded considerable skill of the artist tasked with both upholding this visual tradition, while revolutionising the format for a modern audience.

Other religious paintings in Gilbert Spencer’s early career include The Crucifixion (now in the collection of the Tate Gallery), which relocates this seminal scene to Cookham Meadow, as well as The Shepherds Amazed, 1920, from the Gospel of Luke, which belongs to Leeds Art Gallery. Spencer also produced a series of drawings to illustrate The Ten Commandments in 1934 (Mill House Press), and one of the illustrations was based upon the composition of Gehazi and Naaman.

 

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THE ARTIST

Gilbert Spencer
Gilbert
Spencer
1892 - 1979

Painter, especially of landscapes, draughtsman, teacher and writer, and brother of the painter Stanley Spencer. Born at Cookham, Berkshire. Spencer studied at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, woodcarving at the Royal College of Art, 1911-12, then with Fred Brown and Henry Tonks at the Slade School of Fine Art, 1913-20. Between 1915 and 1919 he served in the army. Spencer had his first one-man show at the Goupil Gallery in 1923; he also exhibited at the RA (he was elected RA in 1960), NEAC, (of which he was a member), Leicester Galleries, RSA, Redfern Gallery and many other venues. Although he produced notable wall paintings for Holywell Manor, Oxford, 1934-6, Spencer made his name as a landscape artist working mainly in the English southern counties. At various times he taught at the Royal College of Art, Glasgow School of Art and Camberwell, serving meanwhile as an Official War Artist, 1940-3. His book Stanley Spencer appeared in 1961 and his autobiography, Memoirs of a Painter, in 1974. A retrospective exhibition was held at Reading in 1964. The Tate and many other public collections hold his work. He sometimes just signed his work GS. He lived in Hampstead and towards the end of his life near Reading, Berkshire.

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Study for The Miller
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Preliminary Study for New Arrivals, Sinai, 1917
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Tennis – viewed from a gap in the trees, circa 1966
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God Creating the World, 1934
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Cookham Barns, 1925
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Ploughed Land, Garsington, c.1922
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Trees at Garsington, c.1922
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Portrait of Joyce Peters, 1920’s
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Man at a Sluice Gate on the Thames, 1932
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Gehazi and Naaman, c. 1930
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Study for Composition with Three Children Seated in a Meadow, 1914
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The Goal, c. 1930
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Trench Digging
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Escaped Prisoner
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The Enemy, circa 1942
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I wish I wasn’t Home-Guarding Tonight
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The Parade Ground
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Home Guard Duties
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The Bore: In ’15’
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It’s orders
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Gilbert Spencer (1892 - 1979)
Portrait of Doreen Harter, mid 1920’s
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Darling, what have you done with my battledress?, 1941
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Shoeing ‘Orses
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Protective Covering
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Apples in a Basket circa 1913
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Hebridean Memory, 1951
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Study for Hebridean Memory, 1951
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