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This portrait shows Bomberg’s second wife, Lilian, painting him at the same time as he is painting her. She later wrote ‘We recognized the total commitment to art in each other’. The portrait that Lilian Bomberg was painting at the same time no longer exists.

Portraits of artists’ lovers abound in art. But here Bomberg chooses to portray his wife as a working artist, rather than as his muse. Bomberg had recently returned from Toledo where, influenced by El Greco, a sixteenth-century Greek artist who worked in Spain, he developed a loose and expressive style which characterised his later work.

September 2004