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Sir Stanley Spencer, R.A. (1891-1959)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Sir Stanley Spencer, R.A. (1891-1959)

Amaryllis

Details
Sir Stanley Spencer, R.A. (1891-1959)
Amaryllis
oil on canvas
30 x 20 in. (76.4 x 50.8 cm.)
Painted in 1951.
Provenance
Commissioned by Dr. O. Frank, 1951.
Anonymous sale, Christie's, London, 11 November 1988, lot 402, where purchased by the present owner.
Literature
K. Bell, Stanley Spencer: A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, London, 1992, pp. 313, 494, no. 362, illustrated.
Exhibited
London, Royal Academy, Summer Exhibition, May - August 1951, no. 12.
Cookham, Church and Vicarage, Stanley Spencer, May - June 1958, no. 26.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

Brought to you by

Anne Haasjes
Anne Haasjes

Lot Essay

Painted in 1951, the present work belongs to a series of commissions from the Frank family of Maidenhead. Spencer and Dr Osmund Frank first met around 1935 when Spencer took Frank to see his murals at the Sandham Memorial Chapel at Burghclere. When funds were raised in 1950 Spencer was commissioned by Dr Osmund Frank (Bell 351) to produce his portrait at the end of his four year term as Mayor of Maidenhead. He subsequently painted his wife, Dickory, Mrs Frank, J.P. (Bell 392) known locally as Dr Winnifred Augusta Doherty, a practising psychiatrist; their son, Andrew (Bell 392), then aged 2 and 1/2 years old; and the Yorkshire terrier, Jummie III and Dr Frank (Bell 410), seen in the arms of its owner. The sittings for this series of portraits took place at the Franks’ home, Chauntry Court in Maidenhead, an imposing house situated on the banks of the River Thames and where Spencer had become a regular visitor.
It was here during a number of visits to paint Mrs Frank in 1951 that Spencer had noticed a glorious amaryllis, in full bloom. In her portrait, this luxurious flower is positioned on the window sill of the heavily-leaded windows of the drawing room. Even in the commissioned portrait, it is clear that the flower has divided the artist’s attention; it reaches out from its position behind the heavily jewelled and coiffured sitter, to almost touch her impassive face. The flower claims the viewer’s attention as Spencer is clearly captivated by its beauty. He always painted from life so he chose to quickly follow up this commission with a portrait of this beautiful specimen in a picture that demonstrates not only its exotic beauty, but the sumptuous surroundings in which such a species would thrive. He told the Franks that he wanted to paint a picture of an amaryllis which once seen would never be forgotten (private correspondence from Osmund Frank to Keith Bell).
In the present work, the flower has moved from a position in the window to take centre stage in the drawing room, set against the canopied brick fireplace, roaring fire and brass fender. The heavily patterned carpet, rug and gothic bronze statues, also seen in Dr Frank’s portrait, were presumably fittings in this room. Nevertheless, Spencer wishes to impress the viewer not only with these important local commissions that he had undertaken, but also by giving a glimpse of a sumptuous interior in one of the most fashionable addresses in the area and in which he was a welcome visitor.
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