The Nursery (Christmas Stockings) was produced while Stanley Spencer was working on his Domestic Scenes, a series of nine pictures executed during the period spanning the summers of 1935 and 1936. These were a more candid, autobiographical sequence of works that Spencer turned to following his resignation from the Royal Academy in 1935 – the jury having rejected two of the five pictures he submitted for the Summer Exhibition – and the great furore that this inspired in the press. At this time the artist was seeking to divorce his first wife, Hilda, and these paintings were deeply influenced by the artist’s nostalgic feelings about the time they had spent together, as well as idealised scenes from his childhood in Cookham. They were exhibited with some critical and commercial success in his one-man exhibition at Arthur Tooth & Sons in 1936.
This work is a preparatory study for The Nursery (Christmas Stockings), which is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.