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David Bomberg Drawings Acquired by Ben Uri Gallery with Help from the Art Fund
David Bomberg, Sappers Under Hill. © the artist's family.

LONDON.- Three captivating drawings by acclaimed British artist David Bomberg are to go on display on Wednesday 8 December at the Ben Uri Gallery, The London Jewish Museum of Art. The three drawings are entitled The Family, Ghetto Theatre; Ghetto Theatre and Sappers under Hill 60.

They were bought by the Ben Uri Gallery at Christie’s in July this summer with help from the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for works of art. The works cost a total of £7,115 and the Art Fund contributed £3,803 towards their purchase. This is the first time they are to be on show at the Gallery.

Ghetto Theatre and The Family, Ghetto theatre (both 1919) are powerful, figurative works depicting a joyless East End Jewish theatre audience. The heavy dark lines and compressed spaces suggest the despair and desolation that the artist must have felt after the horrors of the First World War.

Sappers under Hill 60 (1919) is a vivid wartime drawing depicting British sappers building tunnels and trenches. These constructions eventually resulted in a successful mine attack on a German observation post in March 1916. The artist had personal experience of working as a sapper when he joined the Royal Engineers after enlisting in 1915.

The experience had a profound and lasting impact on his work. After a horrific personal experience of trench warfare, he lost faith in modern technology and focussed his work on human activity, as seen in Sappers under Hill 60.

David Bomberg is recognised internationally as one of the most original and influential painters of his generation.

The acquisitions make an important addition to the Ben Uri Gallery, which already has an impressive Bomberg collection numbering fourteen works, including nine oils. A key early work, Racehorses (1913), was bought in 2004 with help from a major Art Fund grant.

David Bomberg was born to Polish-Jewish parents in Birmingham in 1890. He moved to Whitechapel in East London with his family in 1895 and was raised as an Orthodox Jew. He grew up in the East End with close ties to his local contemporaries a group of Jewish artists and writers, mainly of Eastern-European immigrant origin, who all attended the Slade School of Art. This group included Mark Gertler, Isaac Rosenberg, Jacob Kramer and Bernard Meninksy, and later became known as ‘the Whitechapel Boys’.

In 1913, Bomberg visited Paris with the sculptor Jacob Epstein, where they met Picasso, Derain and Modigliani. On their return they co-curated the ‘Jewish Section’ of the exhibition Twentieth Century Art: A Review of Modern Movements at the Whitechapel Art Gallery (1914), the only exhibition to exhibit all the Whitechapel Boys together during their lifetime.

During the Second World War David Bomberg was appointed an Official War Artist but completed only one commission –Bomb Store (1942). Afterwards he began teaching part-time in London. His pupils included renowned artists Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff. He moved to Spain in 1954, where he remained until shortly before his death in 1957.

The newly acquired drawings will be on display at the Ben Uri Gallery from 8 December.

Ben Uri Gallery | David Bomberg | Art Fund |

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