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Mark Gertler (1891-1939)

The head of a woman c.1923

Pencil | RCIN 927019

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  • A drawing of the head of a woman, turned very slightly to the right. Her gaze is directed off to the right, and she has long thick hair, parted near the centre.

    Mark Gertler was among the few young modern artists who contributed drawings to the collection of graphic works in Queen Mary's Dolls’ House. The son of impoverished Polish Jewish immigrants, he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London and was a contemporary of painters Stanley Spencer and Paul Nash. Another fellow Slade student, Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson, wrote in his autobiography of 1938 that Gertler was 'the genius of the place... the most serious, single-minded artist I have ever come across'. 

    Unlike the majority of portraits in the Dolls’ House collection, this drawing is devoid of visual hints and associations which might pin it down to a particular era. The absence of a hat, ribbons, a headscarf, or other clues preclude an easy dating. The way in which the picture plane is almost entirely occupied by the forms of the subject’s head and hair is a trait associated with modern and abstract painting.

    Commissioned for the Library in Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House.

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