Portrait of Lilian Bomberg oil on canvas 51 x 40.8 cm. (20 x 16 in.)
PROVENANCE: With The Leicester Galleries, London Charles Spencer Martin Braun With Park Grosvenor Galleries, London
EXHIBITED: London, The Leicester Galleries, October 1948, no.26
This work has previously been authenticated by Lilian Bomberg on 22nd September 1962 (see label attached verso). Please note there is a work by another hand verso.
In the mid-1930s David Bomberg fervently wanted to prolong his stay in Spain and explore the landscape, above all at Ronda where he had already produced some exceptional paintings. But disorder erupted, leading towards full-scale civil war. And Bomberg, who now had to think about the safety of the newly-born baby Diana as well as his partner Lilian and her daughter Dinora, felt obliged to cut short this Spanish adventure. They returned to England, very reluctantly, in November 1935. Yearning for the heat, light and elation he had experienced in Spain, Bomberg found life in London increasingly difficult. His gathering emotional turbulence is conveyed in the portraits he now began to paint of himself and his immediate family.
Melancholy can be detected in some painfully introspective self-portraits. But an arresting portrait of Lilian also reveals his profoundly troubled mood. She seems to have withdrawn into a world of shadows. Painting now with great freedom, Bomberg sees Lilian emerging from a darkness which threatens to obliterate her altogether. She looks more like a phantom than the woman who shared his life. Her undoubted air of sadness may well reflect the fact that she missed the stimulus of Spain as much as he did. And now, in the late 1930s, the Spanish Civil War was overshadowed by the threat of a far greater conflict. Bomberg had undergone traumatic experiences on active service in the First World War, so the prospect of another convulsive European blood-bath must have affected his volatile temperament even more.
We are grateful to Richard Cork for compiling this and the following catalogue entries.