Gertler was born in Spitalfields, London, and studied at the Slade School of Art from 1908 to 1912. In his student years, he painted many portraits of his family, the majority of which are of his mother, Golda. His letters of the time reveal how much her simplicity and stability mattered to him. She in turn followed her son's career with great interest. Gertler wrote 'Her entire happiness is bound up in my progress'. The many paintings and drawings which Gertler made of his mother between 1911 and 1913 span a range of pictorial styles, each becoming more bold and simplified. This portrait, the first of the series, presents Golda in the usual naturalistic style of the Edwardian period.
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