Mark Gertler 1891–1939
T01043 The Basket of Fruit 1925
Inscribed ‘Mark Gertler. 25’ t.l.
Canvas, 32 x 40 (81.5 x 101.5).
Presented by the National Art-Collections Fund 1968.
Coll: Bought by Thomas Balston 1928; bequeathed by him to the N.A.C.F. 1967 for presentation to a public collection.
Exh: Whitechapel Art Gallery, June–July 1949 (43); Arts Council, British Painting 1925–50: Second Anthology, New Burlington Galleries, June 1951 and tour (26).
Repr: Hubert Wellington (introd.), Mark Gertler, 1925, pl. 17; Noel Carrington (ed.), Mark Gertler: Selected Letters, 1965, opp. p. 226.
Two cherries and a tall cup with a pointed handle are common to both this painting and ‘Queen of Sheba’ 1922 (T00605).
The artist wrote to Thomas Balston (letter of 19 October 1928): ‘... it is one of my biggest and highest priced pictures... you certainly have the best Still-life I’ve done...’
Part of a letter of 6 April 1924 from Gertler to Valentine Dobrde helps explain the congested and at first sight casual arrangement of still-life objects in this work: ‘... Renoir is exquisite – delicious, but that is also his fault... he is really too “tasty”. It is too refined for us – too sweet. We must have something more brutal today ... My ideas are somewhat changed – no big pictures, no romance, just chunks of Nature. It’s design that matters, not subject. The less subject the better. The artist of today expresses himself no longer by religion, romance or literary illustrations, but purely by design. In my case the realisation of Nature in terms of design – and any bit of Nature...’
Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1967–1968, London 1968.