Richard Warren

"Clearly I tap to you clearly along the plumbing of the world" (W S Graham)

A (dis)comforting Nativity

Just seven posts till now in 2018. But 2019 will see a revival. Oh yes it will.

In the meantime, it’s surprisingly difficult to find a decent Nativity within the usual parameters of this blog. So here’s Stanley Spencer’s of 1912. His first large oil, which won a Slade prize in that year, or so my big book of Stanley tells me. Is it really one hundred and six years since this was painted? It’s somehow both comforting and discomforting at the same time, combining an oblique offence to our expectations with a cool, slo-mo ecstasy, where all is at rest, free and immortal, as Traherne put it. And how vulnerable and isolated the Christ child is, plonked out in the open, in the half light, half shade, messing with his bits of straw.

The best Christmas to you.

4 responses to “A (dis)comforting Nativity

  1. David Hackbridge Johnson December 25, 2018 at 8:38 am

    What a strange and beautiful painting!

  2. Jim Keery December 27, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    Beautiful – but intriguing, as you say – the child is decidedly outside that embracing wall, whilst folk turn their back on him – apart from the kneeling figure out of Giotto. One of the highlights of 2018 was his vast, narrow, nude self-portrait in the Fitzwilliam – for a moment I thought it was Hockney! Can’t find it online – but did find something to swap – two portraits of his first wife – Spencer’s amazing, I think.

    Revival?? The site is wonderful, still exploring it, as I imagine others are …

    All the best, Jim Keery

  3. Jim Keery December 27, 2018 at 10:46 pm


  4. Nigel Collins December 31, 2018 at 7:49 pm

    Thank you for all your posts, Richard, however few or many. Almost always interesting (+ educational!)

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