Spencer, Stanley - 1945 to 1950 Resurrection pictures
Type of Spiritual Experience
Resurrection - The Hill of Zion 1946
A description of the experience
While the Resurrection had long been a recurring theme in Spencer's work, in the years after the war it became especially so. Writing in his notebooks, Spencer attributed this to a revelation he had while in Glasgow working on the Shipbuilding on the Clyde series,
One evening in Port Glasgow when unable to write due to a jazz band playing in the drawing-room just below me, I walked up along the road past the gas works to where I saw a cemetery on a gently rising slope... I seemed then to see that it rose in the midst of a great plain and that all in the plain were resurrecting and moving towards it... I knew then that the resurrection would be directed from this hill. Later he wrote, I have read somewhere (might be Donne or Bunyan or Blake) that the resurrection is a kind of climbing of the Hill of Zion. I want to express this climbing idea... the hill will be illumined from the right, casting a long shadow across the plain far into the left side of the picture... Those resurrecting away in the plain on the left shadow-side of the hill must come round in front of the hill to join those coming from the right sunlit side, so there must be ground to walk on in front of the hill.
Spencer's original plan for realising this vision would have required a canvas some fifty feet wide. Appreciating that this was impractical, he instead embarked on a series of paintings, the two largest of these, Resurrection:The Hill of Sion and Resurrection:Port Glasgow, at some twenty-two feet long each, matched the scale of his original vision. These were supplemented by a series of triptychs, Reunion, Rejoicing, Waking Up and The Raising of Jairus' Daughter plus two smaller pieces. A number of additional panels for some of the triptychs were planned but never completed. Spencer wanted the entire series displayed together, but each piece was sold to a different collector or gallery.
The Resurrection 1947