Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem

Stanley Spencer, Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem, 1920. Oil on canvas, Leeds Art Gallery, United Kingdom.

Sir Stanley Spencer (1891–1959) was a British-born artist who became famous for painting biblical scenes set in 20th-century Cookham, his hometown and a small village along the Thames River in Berkshire, England. This work is set on Cookham’s High Street—an ordinary working class street—with a nondescript building as a backdrop. Christ is seen in the lower right foreground holding the reins of his donkey, head held erect as he watches the scene unfold. According to the Gospel of John, as Jesus enters Jerusalem, crowds gather to welcome him. In this curious interpretation, Spencer paints villagers running away, clustered in the garden, and blocking the sidewalk. The figures have a faceless quality, and their tubular forms seem to float in the picture frame. However unorthodox in style, the work is typical of Spencer’s fervent Christian artistic expression. He was knighted at Buckingham Palace in 1958.

Stanley Spencer, Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem. Oil on canvas, 1920.

A gospel is an account that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

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