Mrs Mounter (1916-17)
Mrs Mounter is one of a series of realism paintings produced by Harold Gilman between 1914-1917. They depict a landlady in her dark surroundings. Gilman used very thick, dark paint along with bright pure colours in this series of paintings. He is considered one of the most gifted British painters of his generation and one of the most distinctive in his reaction to Post-Impressionism.
Gilman was born in Rode, Somerset the son of a Rector. He spent a year in Odessa (1895) before studying at Hastings School of Art in Sussex, then later at the Slade School of Fine Art, London (1897–1901), during this time he became a close friend of Spencer Gore.
He then travelled to Spain where he spent a year in Madrid studying Velázquez in the Prado. Velázquez as well as Whistler became major influences. He also met and married the American painter Grace Cornelia Canedy. They settled in London, but after the birth of a daughter made a long visit to Canedy’s family in Chicago where a second daughter was born. Gilman came under pressure to join his father-in-law’s business. Returning to the UK, and avoiding becoming embroiled into the Canedy family business.
He met Stickert in 1907 and became a founder-member of the Fitzroy Street Group.
In 1911 he also became a founder-member of the Camden Town Group. Both groups advocated local unglamorous subject matter and Gilman's work was strengthened by both associations. His concentration on domestic interiors, painted with subtle, unemphatic realism was a departure from the conventions of English painting at the time, as was his use of bright, pure colour. Under Sickert's influence he was encouraged to experiment with new subjects such as the nude and interiors, and he became a detached observer of the world of London eating-houses, furnished rooms, landladies and parlours of the mid Edwardian years: these subjects he made his own. An impressive series of portraits from 1913 revealed Gilman's degree of physiological insight and sympathy, particularly with the denizens of working-class London, portrayed with a clear-eyed lack of sentimentality.
In 1913 Gilman became the first president of the London Group, which included among its members Epstein, Nevinson and Wyndham Lewis. He taught at the Westminster School of Art (1915) and opened an art school with Ginner.
In 1914 both Gilman and Ginner fell out with Sickert. It was during this time that he painted a series of pictures of a landlady from Maple Street - Mrs Mounter.
In 1917 he was commissioned by the Canadian War Memorials Fund to paint Halifax Harbour. He died soon after its completion, a victim of the (Spanish Flue) influenza epidemic of 1919.
Article By: Dave Roberts.
First Published: 2007.
Search the following topics:
© 2017 Leeds Art Gallery Online