Christ in the Wilderness (Reflecting on The Paintings by Stanley Spencer)

Cottrell, Stephen
SPCK (2012)
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Bishop Stephen Cottrell’s discussion of five of the eight completed Stanley Spencer Christ in the Wilderness (1939-54) series is a judicious blend of art criticism, theology and personal experience although, I have to admit, that the passages I most enjoyed were autobiographical or anecdotal. At one level, I'm sorry that there was no room for the other three but, conversely, I found that by the time I came to the last two chapters most of what needed to be said had already been said.

The Introduction makes the telling point that "nobody owns a desert" and then we plunge in, topographically and zoologically. The pictures are remarkably heterogeneous, partly because Spencer frequently refers back to his First World War combat experience in Greece and the Jesus in the pictures also alters not only in attitude but even in his physical attributes.

If you know the pictures, this is a nice additional source, if you don’t; it's not a bad starting point.