British painter, noted for his religious and visionary works in the modern setting of his native village of Cookham, in Berkshire. He was knighted in 1959.
Spencer studied at the Slade School of Art, London, gaining a scholarship and other prizes. During World War I he served first in the medical corps and then with the infantry in Macedonia. These war experiences played an important part in his postwar paintings, such as the large Resurrection, Cookham (1926), which is set in Cookham churchyard.
Independent of contemporary art movements, Spencer's work represents an individual and intensely spiritual view of experience expressed in a style of slightly naive realism. He was most prominent in British art between the world wars and in 1932 completed his most ambitious work – the series of murals for the Oratory of All Souls in the village of Burghclere, Berkshire. After World War II, when he was commissioned to paint the Clyde shipyards, Spencer turned to large-scale religious subjects, particularly on the theme of the Resurrection.