David Bomberg 1890-1957

Born in Birmingham of Polish-Jewish immigrant parents, he was brought up in London. He was apprenticed to a lithographer, and went to night classes constructed by Walter Bayes at the City and Guilds Institute. He broke his indentures in order to attend evening classes at the Westminster School of Art under Sickert and with Lethaby at the Central Scohol. The Jewish Educational Aid Society enabled him to go to the Slade 1911-13, winning the Tonks Prize for a drawing of fellow student Isaac Rosenberg. He visited Paris with Jacob Epstein in 1913, meeting Picasso, Derain, Modigliani and others.

A founder member of the London Group, his first one-man show was at the Chenil Gallery in 1914: The Mud Bath and In the Hold, two highly abstracted, radically geometricized pictures, aroused much interest and praise from Fry, Hulme and others. Although his approach was very close to that of the Vorticists, with whom he exhibited in 1915, he avoided any formal connection with them. He was in the army 1915-9 serving at the Front in 1916 (the year in which he married), and, following the submission of cubist studies which were rejected, he painted the austerely realistic picture (Sappers at Work, 1918-19) for the Canadian War Records Office. He wrote some poetry, affected by the death in action of his brother.

His artistic reputation remained high after the war but he sold little and suffered acute financial hardship. He lived in Hampshire, 1920-2, gradually modifying his radically geometric approach to form, and then, helped by Muirhead Bone, worked for the Zionist Organisation in Palestine, 1923-7. On his return, his meticulously detailed realistic studies and more thickly painted free sketches were received with critical acclaim but hardly sold. From 1930, he travelled widely (USSR, Morocco and Greece, staying in Spain 1934-5) with Lilian Holt, who was to become his second wife. ... read more

David Bomberg Paintings and Drawings

Untitled (Figures)

David Bomberg: Untitled (Figures), 1919

Bomb Store

David Bomberg: Bomb Store, 1942