1 Malcolm Drummond painted a ‘vital and characteristic’ portrait of his friend in 1911 (figs.1 and 2),2 displayed at the second Camden Town Group exhibition, which presents Ginner as a suave and sophisticated artist, standing nonchalantly with cigarette in hand in front of one of his post-impressionist paintings. Ginner lived in England for the rest of his life but retained a French accent for many years, humorously caricatured in a 1914 letter to the secretary of the London Group, James Bolivar Manson (fig.3).
Isaac Charles Ginner was born in Cannes in the south of France on 4 March 1878.3 He was the third of four children of Isaac Benjamin Ginner (died 1895), from Hastings in Sussex, and Lydia Adeline Wightman, who had lived in London and was of Scottish descent. Ginner’s father established the Pharmacie Ginner in Cannes,4 and his elder brother, Ernest Wightman Ginner, later became a doctor with a practice on the Riviera. Ginner’s eldest brother had died in infancy. His youngest sibling, Ruby Mary Adeline Ginner (later Dyer), became a dancer and dance teacher; many of Ginner’s works were in her collection.5
Ginner was educated in Cannes at the Collège Stanislas. At the age of sixteen he contracted typhoid and double pneumonia and was sent to recuperate on a long sea voyage on his uncle Charles Harrison’s tramp steamer in the Mediterranean and South Atlantic.6 Upon returning to Cannes, he spent time working in an engineer’s office before moving to Paris at the age of twenty-one where he was employed in an architect’s office from 1899 until 1904.7