Stanley Spencer painting stolen from Cookham gallery

Cookham from Englefield by Sir Stanley Spencer
Image caption The painting was stolen from the Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham

A painting by the eccentric English artist Sir Stanley Spencer has been stolen from an art gallery in Berkshire.

Police said a window was smashed at the Stanley Spencer Gallery in High Street, Cookham at 01:00 BST on Sunday evening.

The thief took the painting entitled Cookham from Englefield (dated 1948) by the artist once dubbed 'the divine fool of British art'.

The painting is privately owned and had been loaned to the gallery.

Last year the auction record for a painting by Sir Stanley Spencer was broken twice within minutes at Sotheby's in London.

Workmen in the House, which had an upper estimate of £2m, sold for £4.7m before Sunflower and Dog Worship, with a top estimate of £1.5m, fetched £5.4m.

Sir Stanley, described by the auction house as one of the 20th Century's most important UK artists, was born in 1891 and lived and worked in the Berkshire village of Cookham, now home to the gallery of his work.

Investigating officer Det Con Iain Watkinson, said: "The painting is very distinctive and it holds a great deal of sentimental value to the owners.

"The owners and the gallery are both devastated by its loss.

"I would also urge people working in the art industry to be vigilant and be aware this painting has been stolen."

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