Mark Gertler

Jewish Family


Not on display

Mark Gertler 1891–1939
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 660 × 508 mm
frame: 859 × 702 × 103 mm
Bequeathed by Sir Edward Marsh through the Contemporary Art Society 1954

Display caption

Gertler often took his subjects from the Jewish community in Whitechapel where he had grown up. Here he presents an archetypal Jewish family using simplified forms and consciously archaic figure types, inspired by folk art and early Italian painting, sources which were influential among the Bloomsbury artists with whom he was associated at this time. Gertler’s mother regularly modelled for him, and his depictions of her reveal a complex interplay between different constructions of Jewish identity and artistic influences. This shows her as a peasant wearing a headscarf, although she had appeared in earlier portraits as a smartly-dressed Edwardian matron.

Gallery label, October 2013

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Catalogue entry

Inscr. ‘Mark Gertler, 1st Sept1913’ t.l.
Canvas, 26×20 (66×51), including a black border 1/2 (1·25) wide painted round the edge of the canvas.
Bequeathed by Sir Edward Marsh through the Contemporary Art Society 1954.
Coll: Sir Edward Marsh by 1914 (probably purchased from the artist).
Exh: Twentieth Century Art, Whitechapel Art Gallery, May–June 1914 (270); N.E.A.C.,
 June–July 1914 (54), as ‘Family Group’; C.A.S., Paintings and Drawings, Grosvenor House, June–July 1923 (21); N.E.A.C. Retrospective Exhibition, January–February, 1925 (59), and Manchester, April–May 1925 (139); London Group Retrospective, New Burlington Galleries, April–May 1928 (60); Contemporary British Art, Whitechapel Art Gallery, October–December 1929 (290); Ben Uri Art Gallery, November–December 1944 (51), as ‘Jewish Group’; Whitechapel Art Gallery, June–July 1949 (8), as ‘Jewish Family’; Arts Council tour, Some 20th Century English Paintings and Drawings, Wales, 1950 (60); Artists Between the Wars: Memorial, Studio House, Hampstead, January– February 1950 (62); The Collection of the late Sir Edward Marsh, Leicester Galleries, May 1953 (57).
Lit: John Rothenstein, Modern English Painters: Lewis to Moore, 1956, p.211.
Repr: Tate Gallery Report 1954–55, 1955, between pp.18 and 19.

Probably painted from members of the artist's family, it is one of his first works in a more formal, somewhat Cubist style, evidently influenced by Roger Fry's Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition of 1912.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I

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