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Five noteworthy paintings by Stanley Spencer accepted in lieu of tax to go to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge

  • Date: 19 November 2013
  • Area: National
Making Columns for the Tower of Babel, Stanley Spencer, 1933

Making Columns for the Tower of Babel, Stanley Spencer, 1933. Credit: The Estate of Stanley Spencer 2013. All rights reserved DACS. Photograph, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Five works by, Stanley Spencer (1891-1959) have been allocated to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme. They include one of his most significant early paintings and two preliminary sketches documenting his experiences of World War I. 

Take a look at all five paintings.

Stanley Spencer is recognised as one of the most important British painters of the 20th century. Born in Cookham, Berkshire in 1891, at the age of seventeen he went to study at the Slade School of Art in London. The group of five works allocated to the Fitzwilliam were formerly in the collection of wood engraver Gwen Raverat, grand-daughter of Charles Darwin. She first met Stanley Spencer when they both enrolled at the Slade School in 1908. They became life-long friends, Gwen dubbing Spencer ‘Cookham’ in recognition of the affection Spencer held for his home village.

The five paintings join the Fitzwilliam’s fine collection of early twentieth-century British paintings, which already includes eight paintings and four drawings by Spencer. The collection features some of Spencer’s most famous canvases; Love among the Nations (1935-36), Self-Portrait with Patricia Preece (1937), Self-Portrait (1939) and Love on the Moor (1949-1954). 

Tim Knox, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum commented:
‘The five works by Spencer that have been added to the Fitzwilliam Museum’s collection greatly enrich our holdings of this interesting and very English artist. Moreover, they also have a strong Cambridge connection. We are grateful to the AIL Scheme for allocating these works to the Museum, and to the generous donors who supplied the additional funds needed to secure them.’

Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair Arts Council England said:
‘That these five works have been offered in lieu of inheritance tax and can now be permanently accessed by members of the public, means that important parts of our own history, society and identity are not lost, hidden in houses, but are part of an institution’s collection, open to interpretation and educating and inspiring people.’

The new acquisitions are now on display with other 20th-century British works in the recently refurbished Gallery 1 at the Fitzwilliam Museum.

These works were acquired through HM Government’s acceptance in lieu scheme, administered by Arts Council England, with additional support from the Art Fund, The V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Friends of the Fitzwilliam.

We have recently published our 2013 Acceptance in Lieu Report.

Useful links and further information

The Fitzwilliam Museum

Find out more about the Art Fund and the National Art Pass

Find out more about the Acceptance in Lieu scheme and read the 2013 report

Follow Arts Council England and The Fitzwilliam Museum on Twitter