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Woman reclining on a beach

Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House and the changing status of women in the 1920s

Mark Gertler (1891-1939)

The head of a woman c.1923

RCIN 927019

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Mark Gertler was among the few young modern artists who contributed drawings to the Dolls’ House collection. 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. 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.