Mark Gertler

"Mark Gertler was obsessed with the androgynous Dora Carrington, who had eyes only for biographer Lytton Strachey, who was totally gay. This Bloomsbury story has a gun and a girl; it sounds like an indie movie and it already has been one (Carrington, 1995)." (

(b London, 9 Dec. 1891; d London, 23 June 1939). British painter. Born to poor Polish-Jewish immigrant parents and spoke only Yiddish up to the age of 8. In 1908–12 he studied at the Slade School, where he won several prizes. After the WWI he spent a good deal of time in the south of France for the sake of his delicate health (he had tuberculosis). Gertler was influenced by Post-Impressionism, but his style was highly individual, with strong elements of eastern European folk art.

His favorite subjects included female portraits, still lifes, and nudes, such as the earthy and voluptuous Queen of Sheba (1922, Tate, London), painted in his characteristic feverishly hot colors. His best-known work is perhaps Merry-Go-Round (1916, Tate, London), a powerful image—probably a satire on militarism—in which figures spin on fairground horses in a mad, futile whirl. Gertler had many admirers, including distinguished figures in the literary world...The word ‘genius’ was frequently applied to him, and he was seen by many as the acceptable face of modernism. However, he began to lose popularity in the early 1930s, when he adopted a more avant-garde style characterized by a flatter sense of space and a greater emphasis on surface pattern. He had always been subject to fits of depression, and after the failure of an exhibition at the Lefevre Gallery, London, in 1939, he committed suicide. (

The characters of Loerke in D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love and Gombauld in Aldous Huxley's Crome Yellow were based on him. (
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Suzan Hamer


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