Private Collection

Gilbert Spencer
(1892 - 1979)

Gehazi and Naaman, mid 1930's

SKU: 9242

Signed,

Oil on canvas

Size:
Height – 86cm
Width – 60cm

DESCRIPTION

Spencer produced a series of drawings to illustrate The Ten Commandments in 1934 (Mill House Press). One of the illustrations provided the basis for this oil composition.

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.

Gehazi was the servant of the prophet Elisha. He appears in connection with the history of the Shunammite woman and her son and of Naaman the Syrian. On the latter occasion, Gehazi, overcome with avarice, obtained in the prophet’s name two talents of silver and two changes of garments from Naaman. Consequently, he was guilty of duplicity and dishonesty of conduct, causing Elisha to denounce his crime with righteous sternness, and determine that “the leprosy of Naaman would cleave to him and his descendants for ever”. After Elisha cursed Gehazi, Gehazi became leprous “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.

26 But Elisha said to him, ‚ÄúWas not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes‚Äîor olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves? 27 Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.‚Äù Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and his skin was leprous‚Äîit had become as white as snow.

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THE ARTIST

Spencer, Gilbert

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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