Mark Gertler

The Artist’s Mother


Not on display

Mark Gertler 1891–1939
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 660 × 559 mm
frame: 873 × 785 × 87 mm
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1944

Display caption

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.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry


Inscr. ‘Mark Gertler July, 1911.’ t.r.

Canvas, 26×22 (66×56), including black border, 3/8 (0·75).
Chantrey Purchase from the Leicester Galleries 1944.
Coll: Sir Michael Sadler.
Exh: N.E.A.C., winter 1911 (25), as ‘Portrait of an Elderly Woman’; Leicester Galleries, May–June 1941 (18); Selected Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture from the Collection of the late Sir Michael Sadler, Leicester Galleries, January–February 1944 (85, repr.); R.A., 1944 (15); Whitechapel Art Gallery, June–July 1949 (5).
Lit: Allan Gwynne-Jones, Portrait Painters, 1950, p.37, repr. pl.158; John Rothenstein, Modern English Painters: Lewis to Moore, 1956, p.208, repr. pl.19.
Repr: John Rothenstein, The Tate Gallery, 1962, p.253.

See N05121, a drawing of the same subject. A label on the frame of N05557, apparently in the artist's own hand, states: ‘Portrait of an Elderly Woman. Price £35, by Mark Gertler.’

This is one of several paintings by Gertler of his mother. An earlier one, dated 1908 and belonging to Mr and Mrs S. Samuels, shows her wearing the same dress. Another dated 1909 belongs to Mrs Napier. Among the later portraits one of 1913 belonged to Sir Edward Marsh and was bequeathed to the Glyn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, through the C.A.S.; a further one dated 1924 was in the Collection of J. W. Freshfield and passed to that of R. A. Bevan.

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

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