by Scholes, Robert
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Mark Gertler (1891 - 1939)
He was born in Spitalfields, London, and studied at the Slade School, where he met David Bomberg, Paul Nash, Stanley Spencer, Dora Carrington and Charles Nevinson. Gertler was considered the best draughtsman to study at the Slade since Augustus John. His work was first noticed in The New Age in January, 1913, where Anthony Ludovici wrote, "Mark Gertler is extraordinarily attractive. Building upon his thoroughly conscientious method he ought to do wonderful things. He appears to be young. When he has found and appropriated his love, all this painstaking and severe painting of his will stand him in good stead. He will unbend. Let us hope that grace will follow" NA 12.11:260
He was a conscientious objector during World War I. After the Battle of the Somme he painted Merry-Go-round (1916), which shows a group of military and civilian figures caught on the vicious circle of the roundabout. One gallery refused to show the painting because Gertler was a conscientious objector. Eventually it appeared in the Mansard Gallery in May, 1917.
The first symptoms of tuberculosis appeared in April 1920. In 1925 he was admitted to Maundesley Sanatorium in Norfolk. He was forced to return in 1929 and became depressed by the loss of two close friends, Katherine Mansfield and D.H. Lawrence, from the disease. Gertler committed suicide on 23rd June, 1939.