Ben Uri collection


Artist information

Name Elisabeth Tomalin (1912-2012)

Other name nee Wallach

Born Dresden, Germany

Died London, England

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After studying at Berlin's Reimann Schule, Tomalin settled in London in the 1930s, marrying journalist and Spanish Civil War veteran, Miles Tomalin. During the war, she worked as a drawing assistant under modernist architect Erno Goldfinger, and alongside designer Abram Games at the Ministry of Information. Postwar, she headed Marks and Spencer’s textile print department, becoming an art therapist in her sixties and teaching (until the age of 94) in Germany, Switzerland and Austria; in her nineties, she took up embroidery.

Object Details

Date c. 1920s

Object type painting

Medium Gouache on paper

Materials and techniques gouache (medium) painting (technique) paper (support)

Unframed 51 x 36.1 cm

Framed 88.2 x 51.5 cm

Acquisition presented by the artist in 2012

Accession number 2013-05

Display status Exhibited in 'Refugees: The Lives of Others' until 4 June 2017

Elisabeth Tomalin’s boldly-coloured head, elaborately constructed in pastel and gouache facets, was created during her studentship at Berlin's progressive Reimann Schule during the late 1920s. It takes inspiration from tribal masks and enamels, which she studied under noted Professor K H Rosenberg. After immigrating to the UK, Tomalin became a colour consultant at Heal’s and a successful designer in the British textile industry, setting up her own designs in a number of colourways. This process is anticipated in her choice of different colours for the two sides of her subject’s face, hair and background.



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© Elisabeth Tomalin estate