(b Cookham, Berkshire, 30 June 1891; d Taplow, nr. Cookham, 14 Dec. 1959). English painter, one of the most original figures in 20th-century British art. He lived for most of his life in his native village of Cookham, which played a large part in the imagery of his paintings. His education was fairly elementary, but he grew up in a family in which literature, music, and religion were dominant concerns and his imaginative life was extremely rich. He said he wanted ‘to take the inmost of one's wishes, the most varied religious feelings…and to make it an ordinary fact of the street’, and he is best known for pictures in which he set biblical events in his own village; his visionary attitude has been compared to that of William Blake. Spencer was a prize-winning student at the Slade School (1908–12) and served in the army from 1915 to 1918, first at the Beaufort War Hospital in Bristol, then in Macedonia.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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