6 may 2007

Stanley Spencer, Travoys Arriving with Wounded at a Dressing-Station at Smol, Macedonia, September 1916

Spencer wrote: 'This picture is not in any material or practical sense a truthful representation of the scene it is supposed to depict.'

All of the commentaries talk about about the spiritual aspects of the picture; Spencer himself was keen to emphasise 'God in the bare real things, in a limber wagon, in ravines, in fouling mule lines'. But what no-one mentions is what seems clearest to me, that one of the strongest echoes here is of a Nativity/Epiphany scene: the mules looking into the circle of light at a helpless recumbent figure.

Columba aspexit
per cancellos fenestrae . . .