Art Collections Online

Souvenir of Switzerland

SPENCER, Sir Stanley (1891 - 1959)

Souvenir of Switzerland

Date: 1935

Media: oil on canvas

Size: 107.0 x 320.5 cm

Acquired: 1998; Purchase; with assistance Derek Williams Trust / National Art Collections Fund / National Heritage Lottery Fund

Accession Number: NMW A 11709

Stanley Spencer was probably the finest figurative painter working in Britain during the 1930s. This triptych was commissioned by Sir Edward Beddington-Behrens, a prominent economist and a distinguished patron of modern art. Believing 'it might be a source of inspiration to see life in the mountains where religion plays such a vital and dominant part in the life of the people', in 1933 he invited Spencer to stay with him in the mountainous Saas valley, in Valais in southern Switzerland. Spencer made studies of people, costumes, chapels and gaily painted wayside shrines, from which he painted this monumental work after his return to England. Spencer wrote: 'When I saw the peasants standing on the steps, they were like memorials of Switzerland, each standing on its own pedestal. And so in the panel I have felt that each panel was devoted to some aspect of Swiss feeling'. He believed 'It is much better than if I painted it on the spot because if I feel it sufficiently intensely to paint it from memory it has got to live'. The man with praying hands, fourth from the left in the standing group at the right of the central panel, is a self-portrait of the artist.


Jennifer Dudley Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales Staff
11 April 2022, 14:59

Dear Sally,

Thank you for your message, it's great to hear that you had such a positive experience of visiting us and I will pass your comments on to the front of house team. A bigger image of the Stanley Spencer work you mentioned is available through Art UK:

With best wishes,
Jennifer Dudley
Curator: Art Collections Management and Access

Sally Skerratt
18 March 2022, 10:08
We traveled from Devon yesterday for the day as we wanted to see your exhibition. We were fascinated by the Stanley Spencer Souvenir of Switzerland as we had never heard or seen it before. Unfortunately it is so small on your website. I looked for a reproduction, I know it is enormous but I would like something I could see as we did not have time to study it.
We very much enjoyed our day out, so many items were a delight to look at, the Eric Gill mother and child, the Degas horse sculpture etc etc. Your staff were very welcoming and pleasant to talk to.
Sara Huws Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales Staff
31 March 2017, 15:42

Hi there,

Thank you for your comment. We strive towards achieving 'AA' web accessibility compliance on all our web pages, and are always developing our site so it is more accessible to a wide variety of users. I will pass on your remarks to our team so that they can be discussed in our next review.

Best wishes,

Digital Team

wonderful painting
30 March 2017, 22:01

why not make the type-font and text of your website descriptions (such as of this Stanley Spencer painting) readable, internet user friendly and accessible? That can be done by using black, high contrast type. The words Date, Media,Size, Acquired and Accession number are almost (but not) accessible and reader friendly. None of the other type is user-friendly as it's light value, low contrast and non black, non bold.
It makes a huge difference for viewers of all ages, including children, youth, and adults.
(current optometry is unable to provide working corrective eyewear for this trend of poor graphic design as led by American internet and computer corporations: Optometrists continue to use black, high contrast type in eye exams. There are no corrective lenses available for light value, low contrast and inaccessible graphic design type-font and text. That latter use is now not only prevalent in the internet but in hardcopy publication graphic design.
Sadly, and needlessly, many American art museums (galleries in British usage) are now designing and printing all of their hardcopy publications, including gallery handout guides, schedules of programs, label copy signage and gallery exhibit signage in a mix of tiny type and light-value, low contrast type. This disenfranchises all gallery goers, and leads to reduced membership, donations of money and donations of art. That need not be!

Amgueddfa Cymru Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales Staff
9 January 2013, 12:04

I can confirm that Souvenir of Switzerland is currently on public display, and is located in Gallery 14: Art after Cézanne: The 'Primitive' and the Modern.

Amgueddfa Cymru does indeed own Snowdon from Llanfrothen, but this work is in store at the current time and you would need to make an appointment to view this work when you visit National Museum Cardiff on the 18th January.

Nigel Rapport
9 January 2013, 10:55
Could I confirm that this painting ('Souvenir of Switzerland') is on public display? I would like to come and see it on Friday afternoon, Junuary 18 (and I live in Scotland).

Also, I believe the Museum owns 'Snowdon from Llanfrothen' by Spencer. Is this viewable?

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