1889 - 1950

Hilda Carline

Annie Hilda Carline, but known as Hilda, was born at Fulham, London on 20 November 1889, daughter of artist George Francis Carline (1855-1920) and his wife Annie Smith, an adopted daughter of John Smith. In 1901, an 11 year old living at Brook End, Repton, Burton-upon-Water, Staffordshire with her parents, 45 year old John and 38 year old Annie, with four sibling brothers, George Reginald 16, Roland Francis 14, Sydney William 12 and Richard Cotton 5, both Richard and Sydney became artists. Carline was educated at Oxford High School for Girls where she won prizes for drawing in 1907, and in 1911 the family were living at 3 Park Crescent, St Giles, Oxford and they later lived in Switzerland and Derbyshire before returning to Oxford. Together with brothers Sydney (1886-1929) and Richard, she studied art under the Post-Impressionist Percyval Tudor-Hart (1873-1954) and during the First World War Hilda did farm work for the Women's Land Army at Wangford, Suffolk 1916-1918. She then studied at the Slade School of Art under Henry Tonks (1862-1937). Hilda had a promising early start, with her works being shown at the Daily Express Woman's Exhibition in 1923, the London Group, Royal Academy, the New English Art Club and Goupil Galleries. In 1919 she met Stanley Spencer (1891-1959) and Spencer accompanied the Carlene family on their travels, including their Suffolk trips, and Spencer and Hilda Carline often painted landscapes side-by-side, painting similar works. Hilda and Spencer married at Wangford, Suffolk on 23 February 1925 and they had two daughters, Mary Shirin (born 1925) and Unity (born 1930), both born at Hampstead. They lived in the Vale of Heath Hotel, near Hampstead Heath but in 1927 moved to Burghclere, Hampshire. Carline and Spencer were incompatible, she being a Christian Scientist and Stanley a pantheist and they divorced in May 1937, when Stanley Spencer married lesbian Patricia Preece (1894-1966) the following week but their marriage was not consummated and Preece returned to her previous lover, Dorothy Hepworth (1898-1978). Before and during her marriage Carlene and Spencer made frequent visits to Suffolk, painting on the coast around Wangford and Carlene's brothers, Richard and Sydney, frequently staying with them and both Richard and Carlene exhibited with the Sole Bay Group [q.v.]. From the time of her divorce in 1937, Carline and the girls lived with family members, but there was a decline in Carline's mental health. In 1935 Carline had two painting on exhibition at the Royal Academy, 'Swans at Cookham', which was purchased by Preston Council, and the other of a garden at Hampstead. In 1942 she had a nervous breakdown and was in a mental hospital for eight months, during which time she was visited every Sunday by Spencer, who, after their divorce, had continued to be 'obsessed' with her and that obsession increased after her breakdown. In 1947 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy and she died at Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead on 1 November 1950. Spencer continued to be inspired by Carline after her death, continuing his stream of works from his memory and writing letters to her until his death. In 1983 the Gillian Jason Gallery in London had an exhibition of Stanley and Hilda's work including an unfinished oil by Stanley Spencer 'The Apotheosis of Hilda.'

Works by This Artist