Portrait of Eric Williams MC - 1933

Painting, oil on canvas

 

At this late stage in his career Spencer was in demand as a portraitist. Eric Williams was famous for his wartime exploits in the RAF when as a prisoner of war in the notorious Stalag Luft 3 he planned a daring escape, digging a tunnel and using a vaulting horse to cover the debris in the exercise yard. This led to the so-called ‘Wooden Horse’ escape, which featured in his book and a film of the same name. The original commission was for a pencil sketch but Spencer was dissatisfied with it and, for the same fee, painted this oil instead. It took about a fortnight: most time was spent on the stitches of the sitter’s sweater.