In 1910, Walter Sickert famously declared that art should ‘avoid the drawing room and stick to the kitchen’. Sickert makes very specific assumptions about domestic space, for if there is a drawing room to be avoided, it is also more than likely that the kitchen is located below stairs, and is the domain of a female servant. In this lecture Dr Leena Kore-Schröder (School of English) argues that Gilman configured interior space rather differently, bringing the kitchen and the drawing room together in ways that cut across both gender and class.
This lecture accompanies the first significant exhibition of Harold Gilman’s work since 1982. Bringing together works from both private collections as well as national institutions, it will reveal the innovation and pictorial power of an artist who died prematurely at the height of his artistic powers.
Gilman’s death in 1919 deprived British art of a vital and significant presence. In the last decade of his life his work displayed an increasing engagement with French Post-Impressionist painting and he developed a style quite unlike his erstwhile mentor, Walter Richard Sickert, and other Camden Town artists.
With his particular use of colour and paint, Gilman’s images offer a highly individual view of modern urban life. His work has a powerful presence and realism, yet it remains enigmatic. In much of his mature painting, and especially the important group of works depicting his housekeeper Mrs. Mounter, Gilman created a distinctive vocabulary to explore the interiors and people living in London during the First World War.
Image: Interior with Mrs. Mounter 1916-17, oil on canvas, by Harold Gilman. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.
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