Catalogue entry

Jacob Kramer 1892–1962

P07060 The Philosopher c.1922

Inscribed ‘Kramer’ 35/50’ in pencil b.r. and ‘The Philosopher’ b.l.
Lithograph, 17¾ x 11¿ (45 x 30.2), on yellow tinted paper, 20 x 13¼ (50.8 x 33.7).
Purchased from the Parkin Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1973.
Coll: George C. Hopkinson; Joan Hopkinson; Parkin Gallery, London.
Exh: Parkin Gallery, March–April 1973 (14b).
Repr: The Artist, xxxi, March 1946, p.9; Jacob Kramer: A Memorial Volume, Leeds 1969, p.57, pl.25.

The exact subject of P07060 is unrecorded. However, one of the artist’s sisters, Mrs Sarah Roberts, told Corinne Bellow in April 1974 that it did not represent her father, as has been suggested, but was the artist’s idea of a philosopher. No dated impression of ‘The Philosopher’ has come to light. It was dated c.1922 in the catalogue to the Leeds City Art Gallery Kramer retrospective in 1960. However, in a letter to the compiler of 10 May 1974 Robert Rowe wrote that Kramer was at the time of the exhibition ‘in pretty poor health’ and that ‘his memory was certainly not good’. As a rule the likely dates of exhibits were worked out with Kramer and the lender—in the case of the exhibited impression, Dr W. Whitaker—who ‘probably suggested 1922 and this was confirmed by Jacob’.

There are no other works in any media by Kramer which repeat to the same degree the fragmentation of the picture plane found in ‘The Philosopher’, but the simplified features given to the man’s face can also be seen in ‘Job’ (1917, charcoal, University of Leeds) and ‘The Talmudists’ (c.1932, oil, private collection, on loan to Leeds City Art Gallery), both of which are related in subject matter.

‘The Philosopher’ was used as an example of autolithography to illustrate an article by Kenneth S. Hunter on book illustration in The Artist (loc. cit.). However, the author wrote in a letter of 13 February 1974:‘At the time that I wrote those articles for The Artist, I was seeing quite a lot of Jacob Kramer... and it was whilst I was chatting to him about the article on book illustration that he offered to loan me the print entitled “The Philosopher”. But I am not at all sure that it was ever a book illustration.’ He added that the caption ‘Book Illustration’ under the reproduction would have been written by the editorial staff.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.