Art: Trumpets in Cookham

The annual summer shows of the British Royal Academy are apt to be huge, and hugely dull affairs. This year's exhibition, which opened in London last week, was something of an exception. Besides the academy's standard landscapes and lackluster likenesses, it featured an ambitious composition by 71-year-old Portraitist Augustus John and some pretty splashings by top-ranking Honorary Member Winston Churchill. It also boasted one picture that made all the rest look pale: a new 21-by-7-ft. Resurrection by Stanley Spencer, a frayed little sparrow of a man who may well be a modern master.

At 58, Spencer is almost as baffling as he...

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