With fame having come, Spencer is restarting around 1950 his very ancient Church House project that will bring together anything that he loves or has lost, or rather the synthesis of his innumerable mystical, social and sexual obsessions.
In the wake of William Blake, he conceives the Resurrection as a future reality. Eden, inaccessible to lower class mortals, is symbolized by Cookham regattas and the frustration of his childhood when he did not have enough money to access the punts.
His marital life is messy. He married Hilda in 1925 after three years of hesitation and later divorced to marry Patricia, a lesbian who had involuntarily caused in her youth the drowning of a poet. Patricia refuses both heterosexual relations and divorce and Spencer paints and draws her figure in obscene portraits that upset the Royal Academy.
He had remained in love with Hilda, the mother of his two daughters. When she dies in 1950, Spencer begins to write to her for informing the deceased about the progress of the Church House.
The main theme of the project is Christ preaching at Cookham regatta, for which the artist makes six preparatory paintings showing mainly the crowd waiting in the punts for the Resurrection. From this series, Conversation Between Punts, 107 x 92 cm painted in 1955, was sold for £ 6M including premium by Christie's on November 20, 2013.
In a similar inspiration The bathing pool - dogs, 92 x 61 cm painted in 1957, was sold for £ 4.2M including premium by Sotheby's on June 15, 2011. This artwork joins the themes of social spare time with water and of the ghostly appearance of the artist as a young man.
On June 12 in London, Sotheby's sells the last of the six preliminary canvases of Christ preaching, subtitled Punts by the river, 100 x 153 cm made in 1958, lot 12 estimated £ 3M.
Four young women in light summer dresses talk nicely on the boat. Their intertwined arms and legs create a desirable accumulation of flesh. In the background a naked angel is docking to their boat in an impossible floating position. He is another self-portrait of the artist in his rejuvenating fantasies.
The result of all this preparation is a 5.20 m wide painting where Christ will finally appear. This monumental work is interrupted forever by the death of the artist in 1959.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
SOLD for £ 3.4M including premium