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Stanley Spencer painting to go on show for first time in 60 years

A £5million Stanley Spencer painting will go on public display for the first time in 60 years.

Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta: Punts By The River will be shown at Sotheby’s in London from Friday, June 8 until Tuesday, June 12, when it will be auctioned.

The painting was last seen in 1961, and it is expected to fetch between £3million-£5million at auction.

Frances Christie, Sotheby’s head of modern and post-war British art, said: “We are thrilled to be presenting this work at auction for the first time, and to put it on public view for the first time since 1961.

“Inspired by the great painters of the early Italian Renaissance, Spencer’s symbolic realism is played out on a majestic scale that is nonetheless familiar as quintessentially British everyday life.”

The painting is one of six paintings that were part of Spencer’s ‘Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta’ series.

The centrepiece of that series, which is 17 feet long, remains unfinished and is on display at the Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham.

The work is a self-portrait, showing Spencer in his youth and apparently naked, trying to break into a circle of young women who are sat in a punt on the River Thames in Cookham.

Like many of his works set in Cookham, the painting is a social commentary. Punts would have been extremely expensive during regatta week, and unattainable for someone like Spencer.

The current record price for a Spencer painting is £6million for Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta: Conversation Between Punts, which was sold in 2013.

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