Object Image

The Resurrection, Cookham

As a devout Christian, Spencer believed in a joyful day of resurrection. Everyone would be raised from the dead to receive judgement or glory. Here he depicts this taking place in the churchyard of Cookham, the Berkshire village where he lived. God and Christ watch as people emerge from their graves. Most of the white people are local friends or specific biblical figures. By contrast, Spencer represents the group of Black people at the centre of the painting in a generalising way. They are not based on people he knew, but on images he saw in National Geographic magazine. Spencer intended to show that all humanity would be included in the resurrection, but in trying to make this point he reinforced racist stereotypes and divisions accepted at the time by most white British people.

Credit: Presented by Lord Duveen 1927

Oil paint on canvas
2743.0 x 5486.0mm
Image and text © Tate Britain, 2022

Where you'll find this

Tate Britain
Tate Britain
Permanent collection