David Garshen Bomberg (1890 – 1957)

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Bomberg, Vision of Ezekiel

Vision of Ezekiel
1912 Oil on Canvas
Tate Museum

Bomberg, The Mud Bath

The Mud Bath
1914 Oil on Canvas

David Garshen Bomberg was an English painter, best known for being one of the “Whitechapel Boys” (a group of Anglo-Jewish writers and artists). Bomberg was born in Birmingham, England in a Polish-Jewish family. Bomberg was the seventh of eleven children, all of which moved to Whitechapel in the East End of London in 1895.

Bomberg, Bomberg, Tregor and Tregoff, Cornwall

Bomberg, Tregor and Tregoff, Cornwall
1947 Oil on Canvas

Bomberg, Bab-Es-Siq, Petra

Bab-Es-Siq, Petra
1924 Oil on Canvas
Birmingham Museum.

Bomberg started his studies at City and Guilds and the Westminster School of Art before entering the Slade School of Art. Bomberg was able to study at Slade with a scholarship from the Jewish Education Aid Society and the help of painter, John Singer Sargent. At Slade, Bomberg was a pupil of Henry Tonks, learning a variety of techniques ranging from Impressionism to Cubism and Futurism. In 1913 Bomberg was expelled from Slade after clashing with Tonks, among other professors.

Bomberg, Self-Portrait

Self-Portrait
1937 Oil on Canvas
National Gallery of Scotland

Bomberg, Vigilante

Vigilante
1955 Oil on Canvas
National Gallery of Scotland

After leaving Slade, Bomberg travelled to France with his friend Jacob Epstein, meeting Picasso, Derain and Modigliani. When Bomberg returned to England, he exhibited with the London Group, the Camden Town Group and was loosely associated with the Omega Workshops of the Bloomsbury Group. Bomberg opted not to become thoroughly engaged with the Vorticist group, and declined the opportunity to contribute to their magazine BLAST.

Bomberg, The Garden and Tower of the Sacristy, Cuenca Cathedral

The Garden and Tower of the Sacristy, Cuenca Cathedral
1934 Oil on Canvas
New Art Gallery of South Wales

1914 was an important year in Bomberg’s life, as he held a solo exhibition at the Chenil Gallery in Chelsea. The exhibit received positive press from critics and other artists, and a few of his pieces were sold to John Quinn, an important American collector.

Bomberg, Sappers at Work: A Canadian Tunneling Company

Sappers at Work: A Canadian Tunneling Company
1919 Oil on Canvas
National Gallery of Canada

Unfortunately, Bomberg did not make enough money from his paintings to support himself, and he joined the Royal Engineers in 1915. Within a year of service, Bomberg was transferred to the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, and eventually sent to the Western Front. Bomberg served as a private soldier in the trenches, experiencing a great deal of trauma. By the end of World War I, both his brother and several good friends had lost their lives. His wartime experience not only changed his outlook on life, but also his career as an artist. After returning from battle, Bomberg began painting more figurative paintings, portraits and landscapes. His style became more organic and countered the avant-garde trends.

Bomberg, Players

Players (formerly Fiesta)
1920 Oil on paper
Brighton and Hove Museums

In 1919 Bomberg created an artist’s book “Russian Ballet”, and was a commissioned to make a Canadian War Memorial. The Canadian authorities later rejected his memorial “Sappers at Work”. From 1923 to 1927 Bomberg spent several years in Palestine, painting and drawing with the backing of a Zionist Organization. After Palestine, Bomberg continued his travels to such Spanish cities as Toledo, Ronda, Asturias. He made brief visits to England and made several paintings in Cornwall. Before the start of World War II, Bomberg spent time in the Soviet city, Odessa, until being forced to return to London. Back in London Bomberg made several paintings about the violence and political struggle around him.

Bomberg, Self-Portrait

Self-Portrait
1913-1914 Chalk on paper 22 x 15 in
National Portrait Gallery London

After the War, in 1945, Bomberg was hired as a teacher Borough Polytechnic in London, where he tutored such future artists as Frank Auerback, Leon Kossoff, Cliff Holden, Dorothy Mead and Miles Richmond. Bomberg did not have success as an artist during the post-war period and died in a state of poverty.

Since his death Bomberg’s work has been shown in a major retrospective at the Tate Gallery and was exhibited in the Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal. Do you think you own a painting by David Garshen Bomberg? Contact us. We are the Bomberg experts.