Born Warsaw, Poland
Died London, England
Alfred Wolmark was born in Warsaw, and moved to England with his family in 1883, first to Devon and then to the East End of London. He trained at the Royal Academy (from 1895), where he added the English 'Alfred' to his name, exhibiting there (1901-36), as well as with the Allied Artists Association (1908-16) and the International Society (1911-25). He had his first solo exhibition at Bruton Galleries in London (1905). Wolmark's teenage years in London’s East End and two lengthy stays in his native Poland between 1903-6, had a huge visual and spiritual, impact on his early Rembrandtesque work. In July 1911, after an artistic epiphany on honeymoon in Concarneau, Brittany, Wolmark jettisoned his early methods in favour of the ‘New Art’ and embarked upon the pioneering 'colourist' path that he followed for the next two decades of his working life. Wolmark exhibited regularly with the Ben Uri Art Society, as well as at the Grafton (1911, 1916, 1917) and Whitechapel Galleries (1910, 1914, 1927, 1956). In 1915 he co-founded the JAAS (Jewish Association of Arts and Sciences) with Adrian Alfred Woolfstein (Adrian Wolfe). Despite enjoying success within the Jewish community, Wolmark was rejected from The London Group (1914) and the Royal Academy (1938).
Object type painting
Medium watercolour, pen and ink on paper
Unframed 20 x 13.5 cm
Framed 33 x 25 cm
Signed signed and dated, bottom left: Wolmark 1925
Acquisition Purchased for Ben Uri with the assistance of Lord Sieff 1935
Accession number 1987-438vii
Display status not on display
This watercolour belongs to a series of fourteen book illustrations he made to accompany the complete works of Israel Zangwill (1864-1926), the foremost Anglo-Jewish writer of his generation. Known as ‘the Jewish Dickens’, Zangwill’s best known novel, Children of the Ghetto (1892), vividly described the Whitechapel slums; he also wrote the play The Melting Pot (1908) depicting American Jewish immigrant life and its rich mix of cultures. Both Wolmark and Zangwill were closely associated with Ben Uri from the early 1920s, Zangwill as President in 1922-23, and Wolmark as Vice President for almost a quarter of a century, from 1923-56.