Provenance: The Artist's Studio Acquired by the previous owner from the Odney Club selling exhibition, May 1969
Exhibitions: Exhibition of Important Unfinished Works by the Late Sir Stanley Spencer, 1969, Cookham, Odney Club.
Twentieth Century British Paintings and Drawings, James Hyman Gallery, 1 August - 27 September 2002.
Literature: Keith Bell, Stanley Spencer. A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, Phaidon, London, 1992, (cat.155), illustrated p.430.
Stanley Spencer first met his second wife, Patricia Preece, at a tea shop in Cookham in 1929 but it was not until 1932, when Spencer returned from working at Burghclere, that their relationship became intimate. Their affair led to Spencer's divorce from Hilda and Spencer subsequently married Patricia in 1937, a marriage that failed to survive the honeymoon. This relationship with Preece led to some of Spencer's most powerful portraits, including a small, celebrated group of nudes. According to Keith Bell, ''Spencer must have painted this portrait some time between 1933 and 1937, at the height of his intimacy with Patricia'' (p.430). The fact that Patricia is shown here wearing a wedding or engagement ring may support the later dating, especially since the 1933 Portrait of Patricia Preece (Southampton Art Gallery) clearly shows her left hand to be ring-free. A later date would also help explain the unfinished state of the portrait, given the disasterous outcome of this relationship, a feature that also anticipates similiar such unfinished paintings in the oeuvre of Lucian Freud. In a letter of 1942 in the Tate Archive, Spencer writes of his initial attraction to Patricia and its unfulfilling climax: "I gave myself completely to the excruciating exquisiteness I found in her and I wish you could have seen how lovely she looked arranged in the hundreds of dresses I got her. There was a sort of passionate intensity and meaning in her loveliness and perfect shape and appearance ... her high heels and straight walk used to give me a sexual itch and yet it was never any good except at first." (Stanley Spencer, letter to Hilda about Patricia, 1942, Tate Archive)